Brussels, 9 April 2014
State aid: Commission approves €12.7 million Italian investment aid for Verona and Brescia airports
The European Commission has found that a €12.7 million capital injection into the company managing the Italian airports Verona and Brescia, Aeroporto Valerio Catullo di Verona Villafranca S.p.A, was in line with EU state aid rules. The measure aimed at enabling the company to carry out infrastructure investments over a period of ten years. The Commission concluded that these investments will improve the mobility of citizens and meet transport needs in northern Italy, in line with EU transport policy objectives and without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
The Italian authorities notified the capital injection in February 2014 Aeroporto Valerio Catullo di Verona Villafranca S.p.A, which is majority owned by public local entities, manages Verona airport with approximately 3 million annual passengers, and the airport of Brescia, a small regional airport with less than 1 million annual passengers, specialised in cargo transport. The measure's objective is to strengthen the company’s capital base so that it can undertake infrastructure investments at the two airports in the period 2012-2021, including a terminal upgrade and extension, aircraft apron extension, requalification of air-side and taxiway facilities, ramp facilities and safety improvements.
The capital injection had been granted in 2012, in breach of the Member States' obligation to notify state aid to the European Commission before it is granted. However, the Commission assessed the compatibility of the investment aid with the then applicable guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines (the 2005 Aviation Guidelines). The investigation showed that the supported infrastructure projects contribute to an objective of common European interest by improving the accessibility of the region, tackling congestion of existing airports, and enabling the airports to meet passenger and cargo transport needs in northern Italy.
Furthermore, the Italian authorities presented a business plan which showed that the public support was necessary to implement the project because the expected benefits would not cover the investment costs. The aid was also proportional to the objectives pursued, as it was limited to the funding gap. Finally, the Commission concluded that the measure will not lead to a significant distortion of competition. Indeed, there is only a limited overlap with the catchment area of neighbouring airports and the planned investments will help decongesting the neighbouring airports.
Investment aid in favour of regional airports is in line with EU state aid rules when the airport is open to all users and has satisfactory medium-term prospects for the use of its infrastructure. The state aid must not exceed the funding gap (i.e. the difference between the expected income and the investment costs) of the project. Moreover, the investment must not lead to significant distortions of competition.
Due to the timing of the granting of the aid, it was assessed under the then applicable 2005 Aviation Guidelines. In any case, the decision on the capital injection into Aeroporto Valerio Catullo di Verona Villafranca S.p.A is also fully in line with the principles set out in the 2014 Aviation Guidelines adopted on 20 February 2014 (see IP/14/72), which came into force on 4 April 2014.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.38346 in the State Aid Register on the competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.