MIAMI – It is a new battle of an old war that began in 2006, when Ryanair’s (FR) O’Leary filed a complaint at the EU Commission against Air France (AF), accusing the latter of taking advantage of illegal state aid.

Now, a new complaint was filed by FR in February challenging the recent €7m aid – €3md as a direct loan plus €4md as a state-guaranteed loan – that the French government granted to AF.

This new aid was commented on by Ryanair, saying, “The EU must put an end to this flood of discriminatory multi-billion euro bailouts to inefficient legacy airlines which will distort the Single European market and eliminate fair and effective competition. Commissioner Vestager must stand firm in her discussions with the French Government.”

Air France F-GUGO Airbus A318-111. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

A Question of Competition

The airline added, “Either Air France gets no State aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines. This must include Air France giving up capacity at key French airports.”

“The 24 daily slots at Paris Orly referenced in some media reports is not enough and the Commission must go further. Ryanair is ready to provide the competition, choice, and low-cost travel that French consumers/visitors deserve.”

Michael O’Leary,CEO, Ryanair. Photo: FR

A Recurring Theme

O’Leary is not new to this kind of action. In the recent past, he has filed complaints at the EU Commission not only against AF but also in regard to “illegal state aid” granted to Lufthansa (LH), SAS (SA), and Alitalia (AZ).

The fight against the French carrier is far more bitter since both airlines have exchanged court appearances or EU Commission challenges over the years on the same subject.

In July 2019 AF challenged Marseilles Airport Authorities (MRS) and Ryanair at the Marseilles Court over public money aid granted by Marseilles Airport to Ryanair and lost its case.

Featured image: Malta Air (Ryanair) 9H-QBG Boeing 737-8AS. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways