Brussels, 11 June 2014
State aid: Commission approves Italian operating aid to Stretto airport
The European Commission has found that Italian public capital injections into Stretto airport in Calabria, Italy, are in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission has concluded that the measures have furthered the connectivity of Calabria, in line with EU transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
In 2010, the Commission had opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether capital injections carried out by the public shareholders of SO.G.A.S., the manager of the Italian Stretto airport, in 2005, 2006 and 2007 were in line with the state aid rules.
The Commission's investigation has shown that the financing provided to SO.G.A.S. contributed to the development of safe and viable air transport infrastructure in Calabria, a region where remote accessibility and the underdeveloped freight mobility raise critical issues. This has clearly helped improving the accessibility and connectivity of Calabria and furthered the development of the region. The Commission found that the aid did not exceed the amount required to cover the airport's losses. Moreover, Stretto is over 100 km from the next regional airport. This limits the potential distortion of competition triggered by the aid.
The Commission has assessed the aid under the new Aviation Guidelines, which allow, under certain conditions, operating aid to airports for a transitional period of ten years (see IP/14/72).
On 20 March 2014, the Commission adopted new Aviation Guidelines (see IP/14/72), which came into force on 4 April 2014. The new guidelines replaced the previously applicable guidelines adopted in 2005.
Under the new rules, past operating aid in favour of regional airports is in line with EU state aid rules when it increases the mobility of EU citizens and connectivity of the regions or facilitates regional development, is limited to the minimum necessary and does not lead to undue distortions of competition.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be available under the case number SA.26818 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.