A statement on the Air France website said a complaint was filed in November last year relating to financial assistance Ryanair received from French regional airports in 2008.
"Ryanair's agreement to serve these airports is conditional on the airport authorities' granting aid to it,” the statement reads. "Such measures, taking the form of reduced airport taxes, preferential ground handling rates at certain airports or marketing aid, have been implemented by at least 25 French regional airports."
Ryanair hit back at the accusations saying it is Air France that is getting illegal aid in terms of reduced airport taxes on its domestic routes in France.
"We pay no attention to false claims from high-fares, fuel- surcharging airlines like Air France. They can't compete with Ryanair so they complain instead. Ryanair is investing millions in regional French airport whereas Air France ignores them," Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said in an email response.
According to French daily Le Figaro, Air France has calculated that Ryanair received 660 million eurosworth of illegal aid from European local authorities in 2008 in the form of reduced landing fees and airport taxes. Of those, 35 million euros related to aid from French regional authorities, the newspaper reported on 11 March, citing unnamed sources in the company.
A separate company source, speaking to EurActiv on condition of anonymity, indicated that the aid figure for France was closer to 150 million euro.
A European Commission spokesperson, speaking at a regular press briefing on Thursday (11 March), indicated that the EU executive had received no formal complaint from Air France regarding Ryanair’s activities in European countries outside France.
The spokesperson referred to the Commission's 2005 guidelines on state aid to regional airports to indicate what practices were tolerated under EU state aid rules (EurActiv 06/09/05).
The Air France source said no further complaint will be filed with the European Commission because cases were still pending regarding state aid to regional airports in France. "Regarding Marseille, a complaint was lodged in 2007 but has never been treated by the Commission," the source noted.