The number of investigations under way into the support deals struck between Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair and secondary European airports has started to grow.
In addition to investigations into the airline's deals at Belgium's Brussels South Charleroi and France's Strasbourg Airport, there are other examinations of the terms offered for the carrier's services to Denmark's Aarhus and Sweden's Nykoping airports. Most centre around whether the resources provided by local governments and regions to the carrier represents a form of state aid.
On 24 September, Ryanair switched its services between London Stansted and the French city of Strasbourg to Baden Baden. It moved the service to the German town, only 40km (25 miles) away, following a court decision rejecting Ryanair's request for a stay on an earlier ruling that the airline's agreement at Strasbourg was illegal.
In July, a French court ruled against the deal between Ryanair and the Strasbourg chamber of commerce, which gave the carrier €1.4 million ($1.6 million) in marketing support, after a challenge from BritAir, a regional subsidiary of Air France. Ryanair is appealing against the decision, and pledges to restart the route if it is successful.
Ryanair hopes the Strasbourg appeal will be heard before year-end, and there are signs the European Commission's investigation into its deal with the Walloon government, which owns Brussels South, will be announced by the end of October.
According to Ryanair, the ruling "will determine if public airports are going to be allowed to compete openly and freely with private airports, or have their hands tied behind their backs". Currently only 20% of the airports Ryanair operates to are publicly owned.
local government on Ryanair's aircraft should have been put out to tender. At Aarhus, the issue is whether the airport can offer discounted passenger fees to low-cost carriers.
MARK PILLING LONDON
Source: Airline Business