Investigation into aid to Alghero airport
By Isabelle Smets | Wednesday 27 June 2012
On 27 June, the European Commission announced that it has extended the scope of an in-depth investigation, opened in 2007, on potential state aid for the Italian regional airport Alghero in Sardinia, managed by the publicly held company SOGEAAL. The investigation aims to check the conformity to EU state aid rules of a capital increase granted to SOGEAAL and of contracts between the operator and airlines – namely Ryanair – for the use of the airport infrastructure and the provision of marketing services.
The 27 June decision “is based on new information gathered during the investigation,” the Commission stated. It extends the investigation period and broadens its scope to cover infrastructure subsidies by the state, further support to the airport operator in form of the repayment of losses and increases of capital and additional contracts concluded with the airlines operating at the airport. “On the basis of the information at its disposal, the Commission has doubts that these measures have been granted on market terms or that they could be authorised under the EU guidelines on state aid in the aviation sector. In particular, the Commission will verify whether the infrastructure subsidies were necessary to carry out the investments and were proportionate to the objective pursued,” the European Commission said in a statement. Moreover, the Commission considers that some contracts between the airport and the air carriers might not have been concluded on market terms.