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Brussels, 10th July 2007

Commission launches formal investigation into potential State aid involving Dortmund airport

The European Commission has today decided to launch a formal investigation into an incentive scheme of Flughafen Dortmund GmbH, the company operating Dortmund airport. The publicly owned company has put in place in 2004 an incentive scheme for airlines establishing new routes or extending existing routes from and to the airport. This scheme is called NERES (New and Existing Route Expansion Scheme). The NERES scheme may constitute illegal and incompatible State aid, as it offers airlines more favourable airport charges than those foreseen by the published airport charge regulation. Under NERES, Flughafen Dortmund GmbH also offers marketing support to these companies.

The Commission in its decision identifies two separate issues. First of all, the decision raises doubts as to whether the rebates foreseen in NERES on the published airport charge regulation and the marketing grants available under NERES constitute State aid for the airlines making use of NERES, which are AirBerlin, easyJet, Germanwings and Wizzair..

Secondly, the Commission considers that the cross-subsidisation of operating losses at Dortmund airport by the publicly owned Stadtwerke Dortmund AG may constitute State aid in favour of the airport operator.

Should the formal investigation lead to the conclusion that one or both 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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