Brussels, 15th January 2008
Following a complaint, the European Commission has today decided to open a formal investigation procedure into allegations that the operator of Aarhus airport in Denmark, Aarhus Lufthavn A/S, would have granted State aid to certain airlines through discriminatory rebates on airport charges. The Commission has also adopted an injunction formally requesting from Denmark further information that is necessary to carry out a proper assessment on certain allegations by the complainant.
This investigation follows up on a complaint that airport charges set by Aarhus Lufthavn A/S might constitute State aid to Ryanair. With today's decision, the Commission is opening a formal investigation procedure on possible State aid to the various air carriers operating at Aarhus airport, including, but not limited to, Ryanair. This procedure will allow parties concerned by this case, as well as the Danish authorities, to comment on the Commission's preliminary analysis.
Notably, the investigation should allow the Commission to determine whether Aarhus Lufthavn A/S sets its airport charges independently from the public authorities, or whether the arrangements it has concluded with various airlines are in line with the market economy investor principle. Were either of these questions to be answered positively, the Commission would conclude that the airport charges at stake do not involve State aid. Should aid have been granted to airlines, the Commission would need to determine whether they are compatible with the common market. At this stage, the Commission has not been able to obtain sufficient information from the Danish authorities to either conclude that the measures at stake are not aid or that they are compatible aid, and the decision therefore calls upon Denmark to submit such information.