Ryanair welcomes EU Court rulings on Air France-KLM state aid

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, European Union flag carriers received over 40 billion euros in state subsidies, which have raised concerns regarding potential discrimination. The EU General Court has previously adjudicated on related matters, finding that the billions of euros in state aid granted to airlines such as SAS, Lufthansa, and several Italian carriers were in contravention of legal norms.

Ryanair today welcomed the EU General Court’s rulings that 7 bn euros Covid-19 State aid granted to Air France-KLM in 2020 and 4 bn euros in 2021 was illegal. Ryanair now calls on the European Commission to order France to immediately recover this multi-billion euro illegal State aid package from Air France-KLM and impose adequate remedies to repair at least some of the damage to competition done by this massive State bailout.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport. The European Commission’s approval of the French State aid to Air France-KLM went against the fundamental principles of EU law, like the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality. Today’s judgments confirm that the Commission must act as a guardian of the level playing field in air transport and cannot sign-off discriminatory State aid issued by national governments. The Court’s intervention is a triumph for fair competition and consumers across the EU.

The EU Commission’s spineless approach to State aid since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis allowed Member States to write open-ended cheques to their inefficient zombie flag carriers in the name of faded national prestige.

During the Covid-19 pandemic over 40 bn euros in discriminatory State subsidies was gifted to EU flag carriers. The EU General Court has already ruled in other cases concerning Covid-19 State aid that billions of euros in aid received by SAS, Lufthansa and certain Italian airlines were unlawful.

The European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition has still not acted to force recovery of the unlawful aid, nor has it imposed any measures to remedy the damage to competition caused by the Swedish, Danish, German, and Italian governments favouring their local airlines over other EU airlines, in breach of EU law. Today’s judgments underline the need for the European Commission to immediately act to recover these illegal State aid packages and order remedies to restore at least some of the damage done to competition.

Undistorted competition eliminates inefficiency and benefits consumers through low fares and choice. Unjustified subsidies, on the other hand, encourage ineffectiveness and will harm consumers for decades to come.”

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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