Ryanair agrees Charleroi deal
13 April 2004
BRUSSELS – Low-cost airline Ryanair announced Tuesday it is to continue and even expand services to and from Brussels-Charleroi airport after striking a new deal reviving operating perks previously banned by the European Commission.
Under a new agreement with Walloon local government authorities, which manage the airport, Ryanair will effectively recoup cheap landing and ground handling charges as well as advertising and other promotional aid.
The announcement put an end to the Irish airline’s threat to pull out of operations at Charleroi, following a EC ruling in February that the private carrier had benefited from illegal public subsidies and unfair competition benefits, estimated to be worth EUR 15 million and which it was ordered to pay back in part.
Under the new agreement, the local government authorities hope to disarm the EC charges by now also offer identical perks to other airlines.
Ryanair for its part has pledged to expand its operations at Charleroi, increasing the number of routes from the 11 currently on offer, all subject to a new terminal being built.
The deal has at least momentarily lifted a cloud over prospects for the airport, the development of which is considered crucial to plans to revive the struggling economy of the Charleroi region, hit by high unemployment following the collapse of its local industrial base.
But the re-worked commercial agreement, which includes a review clause if and when the airport reaches annual traffic of two million passengers, must now be approved by the EC.
Ryanair meanwhile is pushing ahead with its fight against the February EC ruling with an appeal due to be heard in the European Court of Justice in May.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Belgian news