EU Commission revises guidelines on state aid to airports and airlines

On February 20, 2014, the European Commission released new Guidelines for the assessment of State aid to airports and airlines. The revised Guidelines which follow from a public consultation in 2011 with the purpose to reassess the Commission’s former 2005 Guidelines introduce substantial changes:State aid for airport operating costs will only be allowed during a transitional period of 10 years.Investment aid will not be permitted for airports with a passenger volume of over 5 million a year, while new caps for smaller airports have been introduced.Start-up aid to airlines for launching new routes or new schedules involving higher flight frequency will vary depending on the size of the airport and requires an aid plan established in advance.The guidelines are aimed at ensuring good connections between regions and the mobility of European citizens, while minimising distortions of competition in the Single Market. They are part of the Commission’s State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition. The formal adoption and publication of the new guidelines in the Official Journal in all EU official languages is foreseen for March 2014.Source: European Commission press release – IP/14/172 20/02/2014New Gudelines available here>>.

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