EU approves charter carrier aid after Ryanair challenge

A Ryanair Boeing 737 is seen at Luton Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, Luton, Britain, April 26, 2020. — Reuters pic
A Ryanair Boeing 737 is seen at Luton Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, Luton, Britain, April 26, 2020. — Reuters pic

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BRUSSELS, July 27 — The EU’s executive today gave a fresh green light to a German bailout for charter airline Condor, after a court rejected an earlier approval following a challenge from Ryanair.

The European Commission said it was giving its backing to a €525-million (RM2.6-billion) package “for damages suffered as a result of the coronavirus outbreak”.

“The aviation sector has been hit particularly hard by the various travel restrictions necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus,” the bloc’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in statement. 

“The measures we approved today will enable Germany to compensate Condor for damages directly suffered as a result of such restrictions.”

The commission was forced to issue a new approval for the bailout after low-cost carrier Ryanair won an annulment of an earlier decision consenting to a larger €550-million package at the EU’s General Court in June. 

The EU’s lower court had ruled Brussels failed to make its case when approving the bailout, handing a rare victory to the Irish carrier.

Ryanair — Europe’s biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers — has also sought to undo the massive bailout of Lufthansa, Air France and other major EU airlines, mostly without success.

Earlier this month the commission announced it was re-approving aid of €1.2 billion to Portugal’s struggling national carrier TAP that was held up by a similar challenge.

Ryanair has estimated the total state aid to airlines approved by Brussels since the beginning of the pandemic at more than €30 billion, including €11 billion to Lufthansa, €10.6 billion to Air France-KLM, €3.5 billion to Alitalia and €1.3 billion to SAS. — AFP

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