EU Court orders Tuifly and Ryanair to repay millions to Austria

The subsidies that the two airlines received from the state-owned airport in Klagenfurt were in violation of EU state aid rules. [EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN]

On Wednesday, the EU Court of Justice ruled that Belgian chartered airline TUIfly and low-cost carrier Ryanair must repay the €13 million in subsidies they received from the Austrian government in 2016.

The European Commission said in 2016 that the subsidies that the two airlines received from the state-owned airport in Klagenfurt were in violation of EU state aid rules and demanded the Austrian government to reclaim the subsidies.

Some of the service and marketing agreements between the airlines and the airport of Klagenfurt gave the two companies an unfair advantage, the European Commission ruled at the time. The EU competition watchdog said that the lossmaking deals amounted to state aid, as it reduced the operating costs for the airlines.

TUIfly and Ryanair challenged the Commission’s decision and brought the matter to the court.

The Luxembourg-based EU General Court has now sided with the European Commission’s reasoning and rejected Tuifly and Ryanair’s arguments. The court ordered both companies to repay the state aid they received to compensate for their advantage through the beneficial contracts with the Austrian airport.

Ryanair has already announced that it will appeal the decision.

(Oliver Noyan | EURACTIV.de)

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