|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.20, 17.5.01, p25|
transport officials have decided to call off a probe into speculation that Europe's leading budget-fares airline, Ryanair, received illegal state aid from a Belgian regional authority.
The Commission had queried if EU competition rules had been broken by the Walloon government by giving preferential treatment to Ryanair in return for its decision, announced in late February, to choose Charleroi as the hub for its continental operations.
"There has been an investigation aimed at finding if state aid was involved but our services couldn't discover anything," said Dina Avraam, a spokeswoman for the Union's transport chief Loyola de Palacio.
Although Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has acknowledged that the "competitive cost base" offered was a crucial factor in choosing the tiny airport, 55 kilometres south of Brussels, both he and the Walloon authorities have refused to divulge specific details of the deal.
A representative for the airline said it had not been contacted by Commission's
investigators. "It really has nothing to do with us," he added.
A complete overhaulof Charleroi airport's management structure was undertaken in the few days before Ryanair announced it had chosen it as the airline's first major base outside the UK and Ireland.
The Walloons had insisted that the previous head of the airport, Marie Desseaux, vacate her post and that it revert from private to public ownership. O'Leary has amassed an estimated personal wealth of 403 €million through his aviation business.
Transport officials have decided to call off a probe into speculation that Europe's leading budget-fares airline, Ryanair, received illegal state aid from a Belgian regional authority.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Internal Markets|