France: Brussels, investigation into aid at Nimes airport

Located within 80 km of Marseille, received public money

25 April, 13:48

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 25 - The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether financial arrangements between public authorities and the airport of Nîmes (France), as well as rebates and marketing agreements concluded between this airport and Ryanair, are in line with EU state aid rules.

    Nimes (FNI) is a regional airport, with a total traffic of 176,521 passengers in 2010. It is located within 80 km of Marseille airport. The civil part of the airport is owned by the French state, and was operated by the local Chamber of Commerce until December 2006. Afterwards, the operation of the airport was awarded to Veolia Transport. From 2000 to 2006, the Chamber of Commerce benefited from a range of public support measures for its activity as operator of Nimes airport, including subsidies of over 2 million euros and cash advances totalling over 9 million euros. Veolia Transport has also been granted public subsidies as the airport operator since 2007.

    At this stage, the Commission considers that these measures, granted by several public entities (including the region, Conseil Général du Gard and local municipalities), may cover ordinary operating expenses of the airport operators and may therefore give them an undue economic advantage which their competitors do not have.

    Finally, the Commission will examine the agreements between the airport operators and Ryanair, such as marketing support contracts and discounts on airport charges and will assess whether part of the aid to the airport operators has been passed on to the airline. (ANSAmed).

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