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Ryanair says Air France stifling regional airports

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(PARIS) - Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary accused Air France, which has filed a complaint with the European Commission against his airline, of stifling the development of French regional airports.

In an interview to appear in Wednesday's edition of the French business daily La Tribune, O'Leary said Air France's blocking of competition and forcing passengers through its hubs in Paris was hurting French regional airports.

He cited the example of the eastern city of Strasbourg, which Ryanair had served before losing a case to Air France and moving across the German border to Baden-Baden.

O'Leary said his company now moves 200,000 passengers through Baden-Baden, while Air France's traffic to Strasbourg has fallen to 1,000 per month.

Air France announced two weeks ago that it had filed a complaint with the European Commission against Ryanair, accusing the Irish budget airline of unfair trading practices.

The airline alleges Ryanair had made the opening of new routes in France conditional on receiving financial incentives from local officials and argued that this "was in direct violation of European regulations".

But O'Leary said the incentives do not amount to public subsidies and that airports have the right to offer discounts.

He called Air France's complaint a public relations stunt and said he thinks they did not have any chance of winning.


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