State aid: European Commission opens investigation into support to Alghero airport, Italy
European Commission - IP/07/1309 12/09/2007
Brussels, 12 September 2007
The European Commission has decided to launch a formal investigation into support that would have been granted by the Sardinia Region and SOGEAAL SpA, the publicly owned company operating Alghero airport, to various air carriers, and by the Sardinia Region to SOGEAAL SpA. The investigation will allow the Commission to assess whether such support falls afoul of EU State aid rules.
The Commission's investigation will focus around three separate aspects. Firstly, the Commission will investigate agreements between SOGEAAL and Irish air carrier Ryanair concerning marketing support and other contributions. In this regard, one of the main aspects of the Commission's in-depth inquiry will be to assess whether the support provided could have been granted by a market economy investor, in which case such support would not fall under EU State aid rules.
Secondly, the Commission will investigate a number of handling fee rebates which are apparently granted to low-cost air carriers at Alghero airport.
Finally, the Commission considers that financial support and compensation granted to SOGEAAL SpA for its operating losses and capital increase might constitute State aid in favour of the airport operator.
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 as "compatible State aid".
The Commission has launched this formal investigation following a complaint from a competing airline.