RYANAIR must repay €9.6m in illegal aid it received from France for operating at three regional airports, EU regulators have said.
The EU’s competition watchdog said the budget airline should repay €6.4m in aid it received for operating at Nîmes airport, €2.4m in aid connected to Pau Pyrénées airport and about €868,000 related to Angoulême airport.
The European commission said the French support, which consisted of “discounts on fees, preferential rates and marketing support”, gave the budget airline “undue economic advantage”, and “distorted competition in the single market”.
“Taxpayers’ money should not be used to provide an unfair advantage to certain airlines, thereby distorting competition within the single European market,” the Commission’s said its ruling.
Ryanair said all its airport arrangements complied with EU rules on competition and said it would appeal against the “erroneous” decision. It also said its services to Pau ended in 2011 and its last flight to Angoulême airport was in 2009.
Transavia, the low-cost subsidiary of Air France - which had brought the original complaint against Ryanair in 2010 - was also ordered to repay €400,000 it had received in illegal aid for flying to Pau.