RYANAIR has insisted its route network is not under
threat despite scrapping its Stansted to Strasbourg service after appeal courts
ruled its subsidy deal with the French airport was illegal.
The Nancy Court of Appeal said a £1 million subsidy
handed to Ryanair by the Strasbourg Chamber of Commerce and publicly owned
Strasbourg Airport equated to state aid following a complaint by Air France.
The ruling adds weight to a separate European
Commission investigation into handouts to the airline from Charleroi Airport
and opens up the possibility of airlines or other airports making similar
complaints against the 20 public airports Ryanair flies to in France and Italy.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “It does raise the
possibility of further complaints against deals we have with other public
airports, but we have not heard of any other pending action and it certainly
will not mean our network in France will collapse.”
Tarbes Chamber of Commerce is also aggrieved by
Ryanair’s deal with nearby Pau Airport but is yet to issue an official
Air France and Alitalia both indicated they have no
intention of making any further complaints, while Lufthansa refused to comment.
Ryanair will stop its Strasbourg service on September
24, replacing it with daily flights to nearby Baden Baden Airport in Germany.
It decided to pull the route after the appeal court
failed to respond to an ultimatum to delay its decision over the Strasbourg
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “It is
wrong for state-aid rules to be misused by high-fare flag carriers to limit
competition, consumer choice and lower fares.”
Ryanair said it expects to
carry 200,000 passengers a year to Baden Baden, which will serve the
Wurttenburg area of Germany and Alsace region of France, with prices starting
from £10 one-way.
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