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Ryanair Challenge to Finnair State Aid Dismissed By EU Court

Stock Markets Jun 22, 2022 06:47AM ET
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By Scott Kanowsky 

Investing.com -- Europe's second-highest court has dismissed a legal challenge brought by Ryanair (IR:RYA) (NASDAQ:RYAAY) against the EU over millions of euros in state aid provided to rival Finnair (HE:FIA1S).

The European Commission had ruled in March 2021 that €351.38M in support from Finland to Finnair was in line with its rules over state aid, citing damage suffered by the aviation sector during the pandemic. Ryanair asked for this decision to be reversed, arguing that EU regulators should have investigated the aid before it was granted.

But the Luxembourg-based General Court found that such an investigation was not necessary. It added that Ryanair did not provide "conclusive" evidence that the support gave Finnair an outsized advantage over its competitors.

"Since the measure at issue seeks as far as possible to maintain the entirety of Finnair’s operations and does not target particular routes, the Commission could examine the presence of a competitive constraint on that airline at the airports where it held slots," the General Court wrote.

Wednesday's judgment marks a setback in Ryanair's legal campaign against EU state aid given to ailing airlines. The low-cost carrier has filed more than 30 lawsuits over the matter.

In a statement, Ryanair hit out at the ruling, claiming it sets back liberalization in Europe's air transport industry by "30 years."

"Undistorted competition can weed out inefficiency and benefit consumers through low fares and choice. Subsidies, on the other hand, encourage inefficiency and will harm consumers for decades to come," Ryanair said.

Ryanair Challenge to Finnair State Aid Dismissed By EU Court
 

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