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Commission opens investigation on potential State aid to Ryanair by Bratislava airport

Following a complaint the European Commission has decided yesterday (11 March) to launch a formal investigation into an agreement for the provision of airport services at Bratislava airport, which allegedly favours Ryanair. The Commission decision also requires the airport to submit a copy of the agreement to it, which it has so far refused to do. Without access to this document, and on the basis of the information provided by the complainant, the Commission has doubts about its compatibility with EU rules on State aid.

According to the information submitted by a complainant, Bratislava airport offers Ryanair, on the basis of the agreement, reduced airport charges for existing destinations and new scheduled flights. The agreement was allegedly concluded in December 2005 for a period until 2016. The reduction could be as high as a 31 % discount for existing destinations and a 48 % discount per flight for new scheduled destinations. At this stage, in spite of its requests, the Commission has not been provided with the text of the agreement.

The Commission has formally requested that document as well as the necessary information to carry out its assessment pursuant to EU State aid rules.

The investigation will aim at resolving whether the reductions, if confirmed, were based on prospects of profitability in the longer term, in which case they would not be covered by State aid rules. The Commission will also assess whether the decision to grant the rebates is imputable to the public authorities. Should it be the case that aid has indeed be granted to Ryanair, the Commission will assess its compatibility with the Treaty.

The opening of a formal investigation is a procedural step that does not prejudge the final conclusion that will be reached by the Commission.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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