A series of lawsuits by Ryanair against decisions taken during the pandemic to grant state aid to airlines in countries such as France, Sweden, Croatia and Belgium will be launched today in the EU’s General Court.
Today’s hearing looks at state aid measures approved by the European Commission in favor of airlines in Sweden and France during the pandemic.
In late March 2020, the European Commission approved a French rule allowing airlines to defer certain taxes. It aimed to partially compensate airlines for the damage done to their finances by the Covid outbreak by relieving pressure on their cash flows.
In April 2020, the European Commission said it would not oppose a proposal by the Swedish government to provide guarantees for new investments or working capital loans for airlines licensed in Sweden.
Ryanair has objected to both schemes. She wants the EU court to annul the decision to sanction both the Swedish and French rules. She also wants the Commission to cover the airline’s costs and its own costs.
In relation to the Swedish and French cases, Ryanair makes a number of arguments in its appeals.
She alleges that the General Court erred in law and misrepresented the facts in relation to Ryanair’s claim of freedom to provide services. It also claims that the court violated EU law by rejecting Ryanair’s claim that the principle of non-discrimination had been unfairly violated.
On Friday, the court will hear a case brought by Ryanair against an August 2020 decision by the Belgian government to grant €290 million in aid to Brussels Airlines, which is controlled by German Lufthansa. This included a €287 million six-year non-convertible loan to Brussels Airlines’ holding company at subsidized interest rates. The remaining €2.9 million was earmarked for a recapitalization of Brussels Airlines.
The measures were part of an aid package worth billions for the entire Lufthansa Group. The Belgian loan replaced part of the support Germany wanted to give to Lufthansa, including a 3 billion euro loan guarantee.
Ryanair has claimed that the Commission “failed to assess whether other more appropriate and less distortive measures were available in addition to the recapitalization” and “failed to impose an effective ban on aggressive expansion by Brussels Airlines”.
In November, the court will rule in a case brought by Ryanair against a Commission decision to sanction state aid to Croatia Airlines “to compensate for the damage caused by the pandemic”.
Also in November, the court will hold two separate hearings on Ryanair’s appeal against state aid granted to Italian airlines, notably Alitalia.
The Italian government provided a €350 million fund to support Italian-registered airlines hit by the pandemic. It also provided €73 million in aid to Alitalia in December 2020, which the Commission approved. Ryanair is appealing both Commission decisions to sanction the aid.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/ryanair-appeals-against-state-aid-for-rivals-begin-in-eu-general-court-today-42077328.html Ryanair today filed a lawsuit against state aid to competitors in the EU court