26-May-2011 10:19 AM

EU opens investigations into state aid to Romanian air transport sector

European Commission announced (25-May-2011) it has opened two in-depth investigations under EU State aid rules into a Romanian support scheme for investments in regional airports and to ascertain whether certain rebates and discounts granted by the Timisoara Airport to some airlines distort competition. In regards to the support scheme for investments in regional airports, the Commission doubts whether the public financing meets a clearly defined objective of general interest, given the apparent oversupply of airport services in Romania. In addition, the Commission needs to assess whether the upgraded infrastructure is necessary and proportional, in particular with a view to the limited activity of the airports. The initial investigation shows that Romania's regional airports are generally loss-making and that their operating losses are covered by the State on a yearly basis. The Commission is also concerned that the agreements concluded between Timisoara Airport and Wizz Air could procure the latter an unfair economic advantage over its competitors. Separately, the Commission approved investment aid mostly to improve access to an airport in Wales and to promote the use of rail and bus to and from the airport in Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia region having agreed both subsidies were justified and limited in size. [more]

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