Ryanair says state aid to TAP makes it a lazy airline...

Ryanair, which challenged the European Court of Justice’s state aid approved by the European Commission from TAP to the European Court of Justice, considers that this support of 1.2 billion euros will “make the company lazy”.

“I think the Portuguese government is making a mistake. Rescuing an airline in this particular way will only make TAP less efficient, it will not lead to the restructuring that TAP needs, [mas antes] make the company lazy, ”said Ryanair’s Legal Affairs director, Juliusz Komorek, in an interview with Lusa.

In this interview regarding the state aviation aid approved by Brussels and contested by Ryanair, the official stressed that “now was the time to look for ways to make [a TAP] efficient, to reevaluate old decisions and to look at all costs and question whether they are necessary and why they are so high ”.

However, with this Portuguese state aid, “TAP will not do it” because “the Government is withdrawing the incentive for the airline to restructure”, insisted Juliusz Komorek.

“This is a tragedy because there are a number of needs that the Government is addressing with taxpayers’ money and allocating 1.2 billion euros to a company is simply the wrong choice,” he added.

Altogether, there are already 10 actions brought by Ryanair in the first instance of the European Court of Justice against state aid approved by the European Commission for aviation in times of crisis generated by the covid-19 pandemic.

One of these actions concerns TAP and was filed on 22 July with the argument that this Portuguese support violates the European treaty and the competition rules.

According to the reasoning to which Lusa had access, Ryanair considers that Brussels “violated its duty to state reasons in its decision” and approved a measure that “violates the principles of non-discrimination, freedom to provide services and freedom of establishment” .

The Irish low-cost company’s objective is to annul the decision of 10 June, when the community executive gave ‘green light’ to Portuguese emergency aid to TAP, a state support of 1.2 billion euros to respond the immediate liquidity needs given the covid-19 pandemic, with predetermined conditions for its repayment.

“I think what will happen is that the six months will pass and the airline will say that it is not ready to present a restructuring plan and there will be an extension of that period”, anticipated Juliusz Komorek.

In addition, “in the end, the loan will be converted into capital” and “the money will never be returned to Portuguese taxpayers”, said this official, in an interview with Lusa.

The covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on TAP’s operations, which, in the image of the sector all over the world, was forced to paralyze its activity for several months.

However, as the problems of the flag carrier were already prior to the covid-19 crisis, Portuguese support was approved by the European Commission under the guidelines on rescue aid and restructuring.

The Government foresees that the delivery of the restructuring plan of TAP to the community executive will take place this November, before the deadline of mid-December.

It is certain that the hearings in the General Court, within the scope of this Ryanair lawsuit against aid to TAP, are scheduled for early December, with the Irish airline expecting a result by the end of March.

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