Ryanair appeals to European Court of Justice to block state-aid for TAP

Low-cost Irish airline Ryanair is trying to stop the €1.2 billion in State ‘aid’ going to Portuguese airline TAP on the basis that it violates the principle of non-discrimination.

Explain reports, the airline “is convinced the decision will be rapid”.

The news was broken by Público yesterday. The paper spoke with Ryanair’s chief legal officer Juliusz Komorek who said he believed the appeal would get a decision within the next eight to 10 months. If it goes Ryanair’s way, TAP could be forced to repay the money it receives from the Portuguese government, said Mr Komorek.

Other newspapers stress the government’s cash injection involves it taking a greater role in the running of TAP and a ‘restructuring plan’ being drawn up.

Brussels gave its permission for the deal as it has done in other countries over other ‘national’ airlines – the latest being a State-led recovery of Brussels Airlines to the tune of €287 million.

What Ryanair is basically saying is ‘this isn’t fair’. In the airline’s view, the money spent by the Portuguese government would be “better distributed among all the airlines that operate in Portugal” (or indeed other countries where State aid had been given to one national carrier).

Said Mr Komorek: “This is a liberalised market. There are no national licences. One government cannot say it only supports airline companies registered in its country”.

Expresso says the European Commission clearly doesn’t see it this way – hence why it has given the green light to a number of State recovery packages, all of them precipitated by the fall in passenger numbers caused by the pandemic.

Meantime, Ryanair is replicating its strategy with other airlines. In all it has lodged six appeals (so far) at the European Court, targeting public money paid out to SAS, Finnair, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.

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