Ryanair to fight ‘unfair’ Finnair and SAS subsidies

Ryanair has pledged to fight the approval of “unfair” state aid to Finnair and SAS in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Irish no-frills giant is to appeal the EU General Court judgments favouring the two subsidies to the European Court of Justice.

The Finnish government granted a €600 million loan guarantee to Finnair which has benefited from more than €1.2 billion in state aid since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Danish and Swedish governments each granted a loan guarantee of €137 million to SAS which has also benefited from recapitalisation state aid from the two countries, bringing the total aid received by SAS to more than €1.3 billion. 

Ryanair referred the European Commission’s approvals of the subsidies to the EU General Court in June 2020.

The airline estimates that more than €30 billion of state aid has been handed out to carriers across Europe since the start of the Covid crisis, including Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, TAP Air Portugal, Norwegian Air, Lot, Condor and Air Europa.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport.

“The European Commission’s approvals of the Finnish, Danish and Swedish State aid went against the fundamental principles of EU law.

“Today’s judgments set the process of liberalisation in air transport back by 30 years by allowing Finland, Denmark and Sweden to give their national flag carriers a leg up over more efficient competitors, based purely on nationality.  

“We will now ask the EU Court of Justice to overturn these unfair subsidies in the interests of competition and consumers.”

The airline’s spokesperson added: “If Europe is to emerge from this crisis with a functioning single market, airlines must be allowed to compete on a level playing field.

“Undistorted competition can weed out inefficiency and benefit consumers through low fares and choice.

“Subsidies, on the other hand, encourage inefficiency and will harm consumers for decades to come.” 

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