In the appeal before the EU Court of Justice, which was officially announced on 3 September and to which the Lusa agency had access, Ryanair is demanding the annulment of the state aid to TAP, authorised by the European Commission, because it considers that Brussels "has violated its duty to state reasons in its decision" and "has misapplied" the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Specifically, with regard to the Treaty, Ryanair contests the application of Article 103, one of which states that 'aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities or of certain economic areas, where such aid does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest may be considered to be compatible with the internal market'.
This is the view of Ryanair, which in its action brought on 22 July claims that the authorisation given by the European Commission to TAP for State support 'infringes the principles of non-discrimination, freedom to provide services and freedom of establishment', as well as 'not showing that the aid falls within the material scope of the guidelines on rescue and restructuring', the Community rules for this type of aid.
The other plea put forward by the low-cost airline, the fifth and final plea, is that "the Commission has not initiated a formal investigation procedure" against TAP.
According to official information, to which Lusa has had access, this appeal is the most recent of a total of six submitted by Ryanair to the EU General Court against authorisations from the European Commission for state aid to aviation at a time of deep crisis in the sector caused by the pandemic.
With regard to TAP, Ryanair's objective is to annul the decision of 10 June, when the EU executive gave the 'green light' for Portuguese emergency aid to TAP, a state support of 1.2 billion Euros to meet 'immediate liquidity needs' given the Covid-19 pandemic, with predetermined conditions for reimbursement.
In addition to TAP, the Irish carrier contested support to the Finnish airline Finnair (Finnish state guarantee to the company) and Scandinavian Airlines (Danish and Swedish state aid to support this Scandinavian carrier to compensate for the damage caused by the outbreak of Covid-19).
Two state aids from France and Sweden were also contested: while the French one concerns the moratorium on the payment of aeronautical fees to public air transport companies, the Swedish one concerns a mechanism for guaranteeing loans to airlines due to the pandemic.
Ryanair's official source confirmed to Lusa last week that "the six appeals already presented", advancing that "there will be more as the decisions are published by the Commission".
These six appeals already filed, however, do not annul the decisions of the European Commission nor interfere with the processes already underway, which can only happen by court decision.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Lusa agency, Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson described the support granted to TAP as "scandalous," calling it "the biggest waste of money ever in Portugal.