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Calls for closure of small regional airports

An environmental group called Transport & Environment has made shocking policy recommendations for the industry in its in-house produced analysis of all EU airports served by Ryanair. T & E claims that state aid received by the low-cost carrier is “helping drive the airline’s record emission growth, potentially breaches EU state aid rules, and faces being ruled illegal.” 

As the Brussels based group states, the "non-exhaustive analysis of all EU airports served by Ryanair has found that almost one-quarter of these airports are likely to be receiving state aid". At the end of the 13-page study (including annexes), T & E makes a policy recommendation that "under no circumstances should the European Commission consider prolonging guidelines which permit operational aid to airports", and it should "proceed to wind down aid to all airports not already on a clear path to profitability". Loss-making airports are being compared to coal mines, the state aid to which was reformed in 2010 when public subsidies started to be progressively reduced, resulting in complete elimination of state aid to this sector and closure of loss-making mines. T & E also attributes the aid given to the aviation sector as responsible for rapid growth in emissions.    

ERA strongly supports the view of ACI Europe expressed in a press release dated 17 July: the analysis is unsubstantiated and based on presumptions, which should not provide the ground for sound policymaking in any case. Our association cannot agree more with the statement that "the objective sought by the 2014 EU State aid Guidelines was certainly not to eliminate operating aid to loss-making airports – nor to force them to close down". A press release by the European Commission from the same year is clear on the fact that "the guidelines are aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market".