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Ryanair challenge EU courts on state aid to other airlines

By February 26, 2021Government

Ryanair are to appeal to the European Court of Justice after losing a legal battle against state aid received by rival airlines. 

Flag carriers such as Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, and TAP have all received state aid from their home nations, something that Ryanair, Europe’s biggest budget carrier, has taken umbrage with. 

They have filed over a dozen lawsuits against the European Commission and other airlines over these state grants, which they believe give competitors an unfair advantage because of their national affiliations. 

Chief executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has accused European nations of “Selectively gifting billions of euros to their inefficient flag carriers”.

However, the European Commission recently ruled that state bailouts, by the specifically cited French and Swedish governments, were well in line with the EU’s rules. Referring to the French system of financial aid, the court claimed, “That aid scheme is appropriate for making good the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and does not constitute discrimination”.

It also claimed that the Swedish system is presumed to have been adopted “in the interest of the European Union”. 

The Irish budget airline will now take its case to the EU’s highest court, arguing that these programmes unfairly benefited Air France-KLM and SAS AB, while discriminating against other carriers such as itself. 

Ryanair hope that a victory in the court would “give airlines and consumers a glimmer of hope that national politicians obsessed with their flag carriers will be sent back to the drawing board and required to use state aid wisely to assist the recovery of traffic in the post-Covid world instead of bailing out their favoured airline at the expense of fair competition and consumers”

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