The Court of Justice of the European Union’s Luxembourg-based General Court has stated it will hear a review, initiated by Ryanair, of the European Commission’s approval of State aid to Aegean Airlines.
In Ryanair’s latest legal challenge to bailouts handed to European carriers since the outbreak of COVID-19, the General Court agreed to assess the Irish low-cost carrier’s “action for annulment” against the European competition regulator’s decision to back the Greek government’s aid package.
In December, the Commission backed a Greek state grant of €120 million (US$142 million) to the privately-owned flag carrier, judging it to be in line with the bloc’s loosened COVID-era State aid rules. The sum “does not exceed the estimated damage caused to the airline between March 23 and June 30” of last year, it said in its statement at the time.
The aid was conditional on Aegean Airlines undertaking a share capital increase of €60 million (US$71 million), which it announced it completed in June.
However, the court summarized in its recent resolution to hear the case that “the applicant, Ireland-based Ryanair DAC, is challenging several state aid measures for the airline sector throughout the EU that were granted during the Covid-19 pandemic. In support of its action, it contends that the European Commission […] committed a manifest error of assessment in its review of the proportionality of the aid to the damage caused by the Covid-19 crisis” and “violated several principles of EU law.”
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