Ryanair today (14 July) noted the EU General Court’s ruling on discriminatory State aid favouring Austrian Airlines, a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group which in June 2020 was granted €150m aid by the Austrian government. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Austrian Airlines has received €600m in State aid and the Lufthansa Group more than €11bn.
While the Covid-19 crisis has caused damage to all airlines that contribute to the economy and the connectivity of Austria, the Austrian government decided to support only its inefficient former “national” airline (now German-owned), discriminating against all others in clear breach of the fundamental principles of EU law. Ryanair subsequently referred the European Commission’s approval of this €150m illegal subsidy to Austrian Airlines to the EU General Court in November 2020. Ryanair will appeal today’s General Court judgment to the Court of Justice of the EU.
A Ryanair spokesperson said:
“One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a single market for air transport. The European Commission’s approval of State aid to Austrian Airlines went against the fundamental principles of EU law and have turned back the clock on the process of liberalisation in air transport by rewarding inefficiency and encouraging unfair competition.
Ryanair is a truly European airline and a champion of competition and consumers. Our instinct in a crisis is to seek efficiencies and cost savings, to offer more routes at lower fares – while remaining Europe’s greenest airline. We will now ask the EU Court of Justice to overturn this unfair subsidy.
If Europe is to emerge from this crisis with a single market that serves the consumers and the economy, airlines must be allowed to compete on a level playing field. Undistorted competition weeds out inefficiency and drives low fares and choice. Subsidies, on the other hand, encourage inefficiency and will harm consumers for decades to come.”
*NOTE TO EDITORS:
The EU Commission’s spineless approach to State aid since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis has allowed Member States to write open-ended cheques to their inefficient zombie flag carriers in the name of faded national prestige. The EU Commission has hastily approved over €30bn of discriminatory State aid since the crisis began. Discriminatory State subsidies given by EU Member States or planned to be given are set out here: