Ryanair to Sue EU Over 'Unfair' Competition Rules

Ryanair Holdings, the discount airline prevented from buying rival Aer Lingus, said Tuesday it will take to court EU competition authorities over their alleged failure to enforce competition rules fairly.

Ryanair said it would take the EU to court because it has refused to act on at least four complaints filed by the Dublin-based carrier since 2005 involving Lufthansa, Air France, Alitalia and Olympic Airlines of Greece.

Ryanair accused France of offering illegal subsidies to Air France's base airports worth 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) over the past seven years. The company also said Germany was being permitted to run up annual losses exceeding 50 million euros ($68 million) at a state-owned Munich airport "on a new terminal built exclusively for Lufthansa."

The Irish airline also chided EU authorities for permitting Italy to offer billions in bailout money for Alitalia, which is expected to be put up for sale soon. It said the EU should have ordered Greece to reclaim "the multi-millions in illegal state aid granted to Olympic."

"Ryanair is confident that the European Court will take the (European) Commission to task for their failure to fairly enforce the state-aid rules against national governments, who continue to protect their inefficient flag carrier airlines," said Jim O'Callaghan, Ryanair's director of regulatory affairs.

O'Callaghan declined to specify when Ryanair intended to begin legal action.

The EU, which on June 27 vetoed Ryanair's ambition to acquire recently privatized Irish airline Aer Lingus, offered no immediate comment.

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