Brussels - The European Commission has found that the marketing agreements concluded between the local Association for the Promotion of Touristic and Economic Flows (APFTE) and Ryanair at the airport of Montpellier are illegal. Ryanair has to return €8.5 million of illegal State aid.
“Competition between airports and between airlines is crucial for consumers, growth and jobs,” said commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy. “Our investigation showed that certain payments by the French local authorities in favour of Ryanair to promote Montpellier airport gave Ryanair an unfair and selective advantage over its competitors and caused harm to other regions and other regional airports. This is illegal under EU State aid rules. France must now recover the illegal State aid.”
Montpellier airport is a regional airport located in the French region of Occitanie. The airport served nearly 1.9 million passengers in 2018. Ryanair was present at the airport until April 2019.
Following a complaint by a competitor of Ryanair, in July 2018 the Commission opened an in-depth investigation into marketing agreements between the Association for the Promotion of Touristic and Economic Flows (Association de Promotion des Flux Touristiques et Economiques, “APFTE”) and Ryanair and its subsidiary AMS.
Between 2010 and 2017, APFTE concluded various marketing agreements with Ryanair and AMS, under which the airline and its subsidiary received payments worth around €8.5 million in exchange for promoting Montpellier and the surrounding area as a touristic destination on Ryanair’s website.