ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
On 8 April 2015, the European Commission granted start-up aid for new routes to French regional airports worth 135 million EUR over 9 years.
The airports shall be eligible for aid if their annual passenger traffic did not surpass 3 million and have established new air routes (or if the route has not been operated for more than a year). The scheme shall also not be available for passenger airports establishing a new route which is competing with a neighbouring airport situated less than 100km or a 1 hour drive away.
Furthermore, the aid programme will have an aid intensity cap of 50% and may be distributed over three years (e.g. 75% in first year, 50% in second and 25% in third).
According to the French authorities, there were 77 airports in 2012 serving between 1'000 and 3 million passenger annually.
The aid programme started on 4 April 2015 and will last until 3 April 2024.
According to the Commission, "the support of the French authorities to certain airlines to encourage the opening of new air links distorts or threatens to distort competition between airlines and affect trade between Member States, given that grants concern air transport, which is a totally liberalized activity within the internal market and in which a large number of companies from different Member States compete" (art. 30, letter from the EC to France, 08.04.2015; own translation). However, the EC concluded the state aid to be compatible with the single market.
The GTA includes state guarantees and other financial incentives that are likely to affect the restructuring and performance of firms facing international competition, whether from imports, in export markets, and from foreign subsidiaries.
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