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Ryanair complains to EU Commission against E 400 M state aid to AAS and KLM/Air France

27 Feb.08

Ryanair,today (Wed, 27 Feb), filed a complaint with the European Commission against State aid of over €400 million per annum to Schiphol Airport and to KLM / Air France. This State aid is being granted by the Dutch government in the form of an exemption of transfer passengers from the so-called “ECO-TAX” on air travel.

Announcing this complaint, Ryanair’s Jim Callaghan said:
“The Dutch government’s so-called “ECO-TAX” on air travel is clearly a tax scam to fill a €350 million hole in Holland’s annual budget. Additionally, the Dutch government is exempting transfer passengers from this tax, which amounts to massive subsidy to Schiphol Airport and KLM / Air France. While Schiphol is effectively the only Dutch airport handling transfer passengers, KLM / Air France accounts for 95% of the transfer traffic at the airport. This tax exemption is almost exclusively benefiting Schiphol and the KLM / Air France monopoly. The Dutch Council of State in September 2007 confirmed that it should have been notified to the European Commission as State aid.

At a time when the Commission’s biased application of the State aid rules is increasingly more apparent, we have little hope that the Commission will actually investigate this matter. Ryanair has lodged complaints regarding massive illegal subsidies to Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and other flag carriers, yet the Commission has failed to take any action whatsoever in these cases (some of which are almost 3 years old). Instead the Commission is persecuting tiny regional airports like Alghero, Pau, Lübeck, Schönefeld, Aarhus and Tampere, for commercial deals with low fares airlines to grow their traffic and promote competition.

It is time the Commission got its priorities right and started promoting competition and consumer choice. We are calling on the Commission to stop ignoring blatant State aid to Air France, Alitalia, Olympic, Lufthansa, Volare and now KLM, and to finally take on national governments who continue to distort competition in Europe’s air transport market with billions of euro of illegal, back door State aid to their flag carrier airlines. The Commission should require the Dutch government to either scrap this tax or to apply it to all passengers, i.e., both point-to-point and transfer at Schiphol, and end this €400 million subsidy to KLM / Air France.”



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