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Brussels, 10th July 2007

Commission launches formal investigation into potential State aid to Flughafen Schönefeld GmbH and air carriers operating from Berlin Schönefeld airport

The European Commission has today decided to launch a formal investigation into several arrangements of Flughafen Schönefeld GmbH owning and operating Berlin Schönefeld airport. The publicly owned company has concluded since 2003 several bilateral contracts with airlines based at the airport. These might constitute illegal and incompatible State aid, as they offer these airlines lower airport charges than those foreseen by the published airport charge regulation. Furthermore, Flughafen Schönefeld GmbH offers marketing support to these companies and has concluded an exclusive agreement with one airline. This consists of an exclusive use agreement for Terminal B of the airport and lower airport charges than the published charges.

The Commission's decision focuses on four separate issues. Firstly, it discusses the exclusive rent agreement which Flughafen Berlin Schönefeld GmbH has concluded with easyJet for the use of Terminal B of Schönefeld airport. The Commission expresses its doubts as to whether the rent paid by easyJet corresponds to the market value of the terminal, especially as the conclusion of the contract has not been preceded by a public tender.

The second issue that will be further investigated is the 10-year contract concluded between Flughafen Schönefeld GmbH and easyJet, which foresees that easyJet pays substantially lower fees than those foreseen by the airport charge regulation. The difference in fees might constitute State aid for easyJet.

Thirdly, the decision raises doubts as to whether certain rebates on the published airport charge regulation and certain marketing grants, which are made available for Aer Lingus, Basic Air, Fairline, German Wings, Iceland Air, Ryanair, V-Bird and Volare, constitute State aid for the respective airlines.

Finally, the Commission considers that the cross-subsidisation of operating losses at Schönefeld airport by operating benefits of Tegel and Tempelhof airports might constitute State aid in favour of Schönefeld airport.

Should the formal investigation lead to the conclusion that one or several of these measures constitute State aid, the Commission will need to assess whether they can be declared compatible with the common market.

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