Ryanair says it will appeal against a ruling by the General Court of the European Union in favour of state aid schemes in France and Sweden.

Ryanair says that Swedish loan guarantees and a French airport tax deferral scheme were reserved only for airlines registered in those countries, “while excluding all other EU airlines, which were also damaged by Covid-19, despite their contribution to connectivity, jobs, traffic growth and the wider economy in France and Sweden”.

The carrier had already appealed against the approval of these schemes back in May 2020, and now says that it will refer matters to the Court of Justice of the EU.

“One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport, underpinned by the principle of a common EU airline licence – one for each airline,” said a Ryanair spokesperson.

“A nationality condition in a State aid scheme is plainly incompatible with the single market.

“Ryanair is a truly European airline. We have no rich and powerful ‘home country’ to subsidise us in times of trouble. Nor do we want discriminatory aid. Our instinct in a crisis is to seek efficiencies and cost savings, to offer more routes at lower fares – while remaining Europe’s greenest airline.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic over €30 billion in discriminatory State subsidies has been gifted to EU flag carriers and, if allowed to stand, this will distort the level playing field in EU aviation for decades to come, giving chronically inefficient national airlines a leg up on their efficient low-fare competitors.

“We hope that the Court of Justice will overturn the European Commission’s approvals of the French and Swedish schemes, to give airlines and consumers a glimmer of hope that national politicians obsessed with their flag carriers will be sent back to the drawing board and required to use State aid wisely to assist the recovery of traffic in the post-Covid world instead of bailing out their favoured airline at the expense of fair competition and consumers.

“Now is the time for the European Commission to stop caving in to national governments’ inefficient bail-out policies and start protecting the single market, Europe’s greatest asset for future economic recovery.”

For its part the EU said that “The deferral of the payment of taxes introduced by France to support airlines which hold a French licence amid the Covid-19 pandemic is consistent with EU law”.

“That aid scheme is appropriate for making good the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and does not constitute discrimination,” it continued.

The EU also said that the objective of the Swedish loan guarantee scheme satisfies the conditions for state aid “in so far as it effectively seeks to remedy a serious disturbance in the Swedish economy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, more particularly the significant adverse effects of the pandemic on the aviation sector in Sweden and therefore on the air services in the territory of that Member State”.

Ryanair is understood to have filed over a dozen lawsuits against the EU Commission, against what it believes to be unfair state aid handed out to carriers including Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and SAS.

ryanair.com, europa.eu