EC approves aid to Klagenfurt airport in Austria
Staff Writer | November 12, 2016
The European Commission has found that public funding granted by Austria to Klagenfurt airport is in line with EU state aid rules.
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The measures boost the connectivity of the region without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
The Commission also found that certain airport services and marketing agreements concluded between the airport operator and airlines Ryanair, HLX and Tuifly gave the latter an undue advantage, which cannot be justified under EU state aid rules.
Ryanair, HLX (which was merged with Hapagfly in 2007 into the new brand Tuifly) and Tuifly now need to repay the incompatible aid to Austria.
Klagenfurt is a small regional airport located in the south of the State of Carinthia in Austria. It is owned by the State of Carinthia and the City of Klagenfurt. Between 2000 and 2015, the airport's traffic has been fluctuating between 200 000 and 500 000 passengers per year.
The in-depth investigation revealed that various grants provided to the airport operator Kärntner Flughafen Betriebsgesellschaft (KFBG) from 2000 to 2011 by its public ownersgave the company a selective advantage over competitors.
They involved state aid within the meaning of the EU rules
The Commission's 2014 Aviation Guidelines allow Member States to support regional airports under certain conditions.
The Commission's investigation found that Klagenfurt airport is an important factor for the development and accessibility of the Carinthia region.
Moreover, the airport is located in a mountainous area with long travel times to other airports, especially during winter (the closest airport in Ljubljana is around 80 km away).
This reduces potential negative effects of the support on competition and trade, which are outweighed by the benefits to the connectivity of the region, in line with EU state aid rules. ■ What to read next
The ongoing atmospheric river event in the Northwest is expected to continue through the rest of the weekend and into early next week.
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