Ryanair fears EC airport ruling

RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary admitted to being rattled at the prospect of the EU Commission ruling its deal at Brussels Charleroi airport illegal.

Ryanair shares fell 27 cent, 3.95% to 6.56, after it broke the news that a draft report from the commission indicates that substantial parts of arrangements at Brussels Charleroi will be found unlawful.

Mr O’Leary’s initial reaction to the possible ruling was: “Are we rattled? Yes. It’s beyond my comprehension how the commission can say ‘sorry, this is state aid and we’d like you to pay higher costs and charge higher fares, so Zaventem can have a level playing field.’’ (Zaventem is the main airport in Brussels).

Ryanair confirmed it still did not have sight of the actual detail of the decision and is responding to feedback received from a number of sources within the commission.

Ryanair says it will appeal to the European Court to have any negative ruling on its cost base at the airport overturned and will enter talks with the airport and the government of Belgium’s Wallonia region about the possible sale of the airport.

Mr O’Leary said Ryanair will immediately enter into negotiations with both Brussels Charleroi and the Walloon Government to explore the possibility of the airport being privatised and a similar long-term, low-cost arrangement being put in place.

Mr O’Leary said that if neither of his options are possible and if a negative decision is issued by the commission, then Ryanair will be forced, temporarily, to close the base at Brussels Charleroi.

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