ANNOUNCEMENT 22 Dec 2020
In November 2020, the European Commission approved Slovakia's financial aid scheme to support airport operators affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
European Commission, Letter to the Member State on 22 December 2020, State Aid SA.59240 (2020/N) – Slovakia – COVID-19 – Aid to airport operators: https://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases1/20216/290899_2242140_70_2.pdf
European Commission, SA.59240 COVID-19 – Aid to airport operators: https://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=3_SA_59240
On 20 December 2020, the European Commission approved Slovakia's aid scheme to support airport operators affected by the COVID-19 through financial grants. Slovakia has indicated a budget of EUR 29.8 million (approx. USD 36.4 million) for this measure.
More specifically, the approved financial aid scheme provides three types of financial grants to airport operators: i) measure 1, damage compensations, ii) measure 2, direct grants of up to EUR 800,000 for beneficiaries that operated more than 200,000 passengers in 2019, and iii) measure 3, support for uncovered fixed costs. All airport operators fulfilling the eligibility criteria of handling more than 200,000 passengers in 2019 are eligible. In total, six airport operators qualify as beneficiaries of this scheme, namely Bratislava Airport, Košice Airport, Poprad-Tatry Airport, Piešťany Airport, Sliač Airport, and Žilina Airport.
The measure aims at mitigating the impact of travel restrictions and decrease of passengers due to the pandemic and remedy liquidity shortage for the airport operators.
In its decision, the European Commission stated that the measure distorts competition and affects "trade between Member States since the beneficiaries are active in the airport sector, in which intra Union trade exists".
The state aid is approved under the Temporary Framework under the State Aid and its amendments of 2 April 2020 and 13 October 2020. The European Commission adopted the Temporary Framework under the State Aid rules of the European Union on 19 March (see related state act).
European Commission approved the state aid without raising objections, concluding that the measure is compatible with the internal market under Article 107(2)(b) of the TFEU.
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.
On 10 June 2021, Slovakia notified the European Commission of the plan to extend and modify this scheme. Firstly, the aid scheme was prolonged to 31 December 2021 and secondly, a budget increase was announced (see related state act). The European Commission approved the amendments on 8 July 2021.