Ryanair notched up the first wins in its campaign to topple billions of euros of COVID-19 bailouts for rival carriers after European Union judges faulted EU regulators for failing to properly check whether aid was justified, reported Bloomberg.
The EU General Court, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, on Wednesday, May 19, overturned the European Commission’s approval of a €3.4 billion (US$4.2 billion) Dutch subsidy to Air France-KLM and €1.2 billion offered by Portugal to TAP SGPS.
But rather than order the repayment of subsidies, judges gave regulators the chance to re-examine the cases and fix any procedural flaws. Ryanair on Wednesday lost a separate challenge to a €10 billion Spanish fund for local carriers.
Ryanair has filed more than two dozen challenges to EU approvals for pandemic aid doled out by governments to carriers, including Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM. The Irish low-cost carrier, which has lost five of the challenges so far, argued that the aid for selected airlines creates an unfair advantage and will help rivals to emerge stronger, slash fares, and swallow up others.
Ryanair said in a statement that the two rulings in its favor were “an important victory for consumers and competition,” calling the EU’s aid approvals “discriminatory,” risking distortion to markets “for decades to come.”
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