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EU probes Ryanair deal with Frankfurt-Hahn airport

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EU probes Ryanair deal with Frankfurt-Hahn airport

Ryanair - Photo Curren

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission opened an in-depth investigation Friday to assess whether measures in favour of low-cost airline Ryanair at the German airport of Frankfurt-Hahn are in line with EU State aid rules.

The Commission will also investigate certain measures in favour of the airport operator FFHG.

"Fair competition is essential for consumers, jobs and growth - also for air transport operators," said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager: "We will investigate whether regional and local authorities in Germany, against the rules, gave an unfair advantage to Ryanair over its competitors, potentially harming other airlines and having spill-over effects on other regions in Europe."

Frankfurt-Hahn airport, a regional airport located in the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate 120 km west of Frankfurt am Main, is operated by the company Flughafengesellschaft Frankfurt-Hahn GmbH (FFHG), which between 2009 and 2017 was controlled by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Commission received a complaint alleging that certain measures in favour of Ryanair with respect to its operations at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, as well as other measures in favour of airport operator FFHG amounted to illegal State aid.

With respect to Ryanair, following a preliminary assessment, the Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation in relation to (i) certain marketing agreements between the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and Ryanair and (ii) several other agreements governing the financial relationships between Ryanair and FFHG.

At this stage, the Commission says it has concerns that the agreements in question may give Ryanair an undue economic advantage and might amount to incompatible aid in favour of Ryanair.

With respect to airport operator FFHG the Commission has today: (i) opened an in-depth investigation with respect to two measures adopted by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to verify whether these measures are in line with EU State aid rules and (ii) concluded that the other measures in favour of FFHG covered by the complaint either do not constitute State aid or are in line with EU State aid rules.

The opening of proceedings gives interested third parties an opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

EU guidelines for state aid to airports and airlines

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