Opinion in case concerning airlines state aid


(Appeal – State aid – Aid to airports and airlines – Decision classifying the measures in favour of Frankfurt-Hahn airport as State aid compatible with the internal market and finding that there was no State aid in favour of the airlines using that airport – Inadmissibility of an action for annulment – Lack of individual concern – Lack of direct concern – Effective judicial protection)

This case concerns an appeal against a judgment of the General Court dismissing Lufthansa’s annulment action in relation to a Commission decision finding that Land Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) had not given illegal state aid to Frankfurt Hahn Airport nor to any airlines, such as Ryanair, using that airport.

In defence of its decision before the General Court, the Commission argued that Lufthansa did not have standing to contest its decision. The Court considered that to have standing, Lufthansa would have to show that it was directly and individually affected by the decision. That is, Lufthansa would have to show that the aids complained of would affect its competitive position in the market.

The Court found that Lufthansa had not attempted to define the scope of the market in question and had failed to provide other evidence about the way in which it and Ryanair compete in that region. Furthermore, as Lufthansa did not use Frankfurt Hahn airport, it could not claim that Ryanair benefitted from a discriminatory fee regime.

Seen as the General Court found that Lufthansa had no standing to challenge the Commission’s decision, the case was dismissed.

In its appeal, Lufthansa attacks the procedure followed by the Commission in making the contested decision. The appellant alleges that the Commission ignored information that it had supplied to it, and that it had carried out a deficient investigation, which in itself gives the appellant standing.

Lufthansa also claims, in essence, that the General Court applied an excess burden of proof by demanding an analysis of the market structure.



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