Ryanair loses challenge against state aid for Lufthansa's Austrian unit

Aid granted by Austria to Austrian Airlines is compatible with the internal market

  
A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021.

A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian dissident journalist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021.

REUTERS/Andrius Sytas/File Photo

BRUSSELS - Ryanair on Wednesday lost its challenge against state aid for Austrian Airlines approved by EU competition regulators after Europe's second-highest court said the aid complied with EU rules.

Europe's biggest budget airline has launched 16 lawsuits against the European Commission for allowing state aid for individual airlines.

In addition to Austrian, those carriers include Austrian's parent Lufthansa, Portugal's TAP as well as flag carriers that were helped by national schemes.

Ryanair took its grievance to the Luxembourg-based General Court after the EU competition enforcer approved Vienna's decision to grant aid to Austrian Airlines in June 2020.

"The aid granted by Austria to Austrian Airlines in order to compensate it for the damage resulting from the cancellation or rescheduling of its flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic is compatible with the internal market," the General Court ruled on Wednesday.

"That aid, having been deducted from the subsidies granted, in the same context, by Germany to the Lufthansa group, which also includes Austrian Airlines, does not constitute overcompensation in favour of that group."

Ryanair can appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe's highest court.

The General Court this year has ruled in favour of Ryanair in its challenges against aid given to German charter airline Condor, KLM and TAP.

It has thrown out challenges against aid for SAS, Finnair and Air France.

The case is T-677/20 Ryanair & Laudamotion v Commission (Austrian Airlines; Covid-19).

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely) ((foo.yunchee@thomsonreuters.com; +32 2 287 6844; Reuters Messaging: foo.yunchee.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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