The European Commission has ordered three airlines to repay millions of euros in state aid after ruling their deals with Klagenfurt Airport were anticompetitive. An investigation by the regulator found that service and marketing agreements put in place by the local authority-owned Austrian airport for Ryanair, TUIfly and Hapag-Lloyd Express (HLX) conferred an “undue advantage which cannot be justified under EU state aid rules”.
The Commission added the agreements “could not, when they were concluded, have been expected to generate more revenues than additional costs. As no profit-driven airport manager would have concluded such loss-making agreements, they amount to state aid to the airlines”.
In its ruling, the Commission has ordered Ryanair to repay around €2m to the Austrian authorities, while HLX (now part of TUIfly) and TUIfly will repay €9.6m and €1.1m respectively.
The regulator also probed similar deals with Austrian Airlines and airberlin, but concluded that these would have been acceptable to a profit-driven airport manager.