ANNOUNCEMENT 13 Nov 2009In November 2009, the Scandinavian governments announced a change in private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
Letter from the EC to Denmark and Sweden, Brussels 19.06.2013
ELFAA press release 19.6.2013
EC decision from 9 July 2014
The states of Denmark, Norway and Sweden supported SAS in various ways between the years 2009 and 2012.
SAS is the 'flag carrier' of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, with a market share of 35.6 percent on the Scandinavian market (2011 numbers, para. 11). SAS is a 50 percent state owned enterprises: 21.4 % by Sweden, 14.3% by Denmark and 14.3 percent by Norway (para 13).
On 13 November 2009 the European Commission received a complaint from the 'European Low Fares Airline Association' (ELFAA) on two capital increases of EUR 650 million (in total) (para. 2, letter from the EC to Denmark and Sweden, Brussels 19.06.2013).By a preliminary assessment letter from 26 October 2011, the EC invalidated the complaints. The two capital increases were deemed necessary after the appearance of low-cost carriers challenged the SAS business model and forced SAS to substantially reduce costs and restructure. (para. 15) In both cases, the states provided 50 percent of the capital.
On 12 November 2012, Denmark, Norway and Sweden launched a new 'Revolving Credit Facility' (RCF) in favor of SAS. On 20 November 2012 Ryan air, followed by ELFAA on 4 February 2013, complained about the involvement of the states in the RCF. Banks were unwilling to provide new credits without an involvement by the states. On 22 October 2012, the banks agreed on the new RCF that implies a 50 percent support by the three states.
On 11 March 2013, the Commission received another complaint on a 'sale-and-lease-back' (SALB) scheme from April 2012. The SALB transactions took place in April 2012 between SAS and Swedavia, a Swedish State-owned company which owns and operates airports in Sweden. (para. 7).
Hence, the state is involved in three different support measures between 2009 and 2012, namely:
1) Capital increases in 2009 & 2010
2) New Revolving Credit Facility in 2012
3) Sale and Lease Back in 2012
The EC investigated all three support schemes individually. The EC's ultimate finding was that measures (1) and (3) did not constitute state aid. With respect to measure (2), the EC said it's "preliminary" finding was that it constituted state aid, a point they did not take up in the conclusion of the ruling. Moreover, in the EC's view they could not find reasons to conclude that measure (2) was compatiable with the Internal Market, implying conditions of competition in this sector may have been affected.
Update from 9 July 2014:
However, on 9 July 2014, the European Commission announced that the financing of SAS Airlines through the new Revolving Credit Facility does not constitute state aid.
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