Ryanair would lose money without ‘state aid’, alleges airline association

An association representing many of Europe’s leading airlines has compiled a report alleging Ryanair has benefited from state subsidies worth hundreds of millions of euros.

The report by the Association of European Airlines (AEA) has not been made public, but Belgian newspaper L’Echo and news agency Reuters report the AEA document alleges Ryanair would have lost €305 million (£250 million) in the last financial year without government support.

Ryanair reported a profit of €503 million (£406 million) in the 12 months to the end of March. The budget carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary denied the carrier received any state aid.

He told L’Echo the airline had negotiated concessions with airports which did not count as public support.

Ryanair has been the subject of repeated investigations by the European Commission into alleged state aid following deals with regional airports supported by local government funds – including at Nice, Bratislava, Charleroi and Frankfurt Hahn.

It is expected the AEA document will be submitted to the EC.

Ryanair regularly signs deals with local airports and regional tourism authorities which include marketing agreements and committed funds for joint advertising campaigns.

The budget carrier accused local authorities in Rhodes and Kos of breaking such a marketing deal when it announced in May that it was pulling out of flying to the islands before the end of this year’s summer season.

The carrier blamed the Dodecanese development association Detap and the mayor of Kos, saying they had “failed to honour an agreed joint marketing campaign with Ryanair to promote Ryanair’s Rhodes and Kos routes”.

An airline spokesman said: “Detap and the mayor of Kos reneged on an agreement to jointly promote our flights.” The AEA includes British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France-KLM and other major European carriers among its members.

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.