Analysis of state aid to Ryanair airports

An analysis of all EU airports served by Ryanair has found that almost one-quarter of these airports are likely to be receiving state aid. The analysis, which is non-exhaustive as we focused only on small airports, includes many cases where airports used by Ryanair are shown to be in direct receipt of public money from local authorities. Such state aid is helping drive the airline’s record emissions growth, potentially breaches EU state aid rules, and faces being ruled illegal as the European Commission begins a review of the guidelines covering state aid to airports and airlines.

Given the rapid growth in emissions from this sector, and in particular from Ryanair, which earlier this year was revealed to have become a Top 10 carbon emitter in Europe’s emission trading system, ranked next to coal fired plants, the Commission should act immediately and use its powers to end such state aid. In doing so, it should follow the precedent it set in 2010 when it ordered member states to wind down, and draft closure plans, for loss-making coal mines. When it comes to the climate, aviation is the new coal, and similar action is needed.