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Charleroi to demand Ryanair pay-back

Published on 08/09/2004

8 September 2004

BRUSSELS – Charleroi airport is to send a letter to budget airline Ryanair to ask for around EUR 4 million in reimbursement.

The letter, which will be sent in the next few days, comes after a European Commission ruling earlier this year that found Ryanair guilty of receiving illegal state aid.

The Commission gave the Wallonian government until 15 September to recover the illegal aid or at least show willingness to do so.

At a press conference David Gering, Ryanair’s Benelux representative, refused to confirm the sum that was being demanded of the Irish company.

But he said that Ryanair would respect the law and the looming deadlines.

In February this year, the EU executive demanded that Ryanair pay back some of the financial aid received for setting up its operations at Charleroi airport.

The Commission did not define the figure, which was to be based on calculations based on information provided by different parties.

Ryanair appealed the decision in May.

Gering said, however, that Charleroi still had enormous potential if the airline could reach a new tariff agreement with the Walloon region and the airport authorities.

“We believe that our aircraft are like busses with wings and that we should not have to pay to stop in different places,” he said.

A new agreement has to be thrashed out as over two million passengers now pass each year through Charleroi and this requires additional restrictions.

Latest figures appear to indicate a negative impact on Ryanair’s business plans for Charleroi after the Commission ruling.

The budget carrier on Wednesday announced several new routes in Europe, most noticeably from Rome, where five new destinations are planned.

Eindhoven airport will also benefit from new routes, but nothing has been planned from Charleroi.

“Ryanair is developing everywhere in Europe but unfortunately, it’s the status quo for Charleroi,” said Gering, indicating the reason was the ongoing negotiations with the Walloon government.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news