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Oswell & Vahida Helps Ryanair to EU General Court Victory in Three Cases Involving 7 Billion Euros in Illegal State Aid

Date

25 May 2023

Sections

Transport

 

Brussels, 24 May 2023—Oswell & Vahida has recently helped its longstanding client, Ryanair, win three recent EU Court judgements worth more than 7 billion euros against European flag carriers Deutsche Lufthansa and SAS and several Italian airlines over illegally awarded state aid, the law firm said today. 

This week’s judgement by the EU’s General Court against aid to Italian airlines Neos SpA, Blue Panorama Airlines and Air Dolomiti was the third in a row in Ryanair’s favour. The Court said the Commission had failed to give a satisfactory explanation why these airlines were eligible for state aid. 

On the 10th of May, the European Union’s General Court annulled the approval of 6 billion euros in aid to German airline Lufthansa and 1 billion euros in aid to Scandinavian airline group SAS on the basis of the merits of Ryanair’s complaints. 

“These three latest cases show that European courts are becoming more sceptical of the generosity that some member states have shown their national carriers,” said Esfandiar Vahida, a founding partner at Oswell & Vahida and one of the lead lawyers on all three recent cases.

The firm has similar cases pending against aid to Air France and other major airlines. All four cases relate to state aid doled out to airlines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting collapse in air travel. 

In the Lufthansa case, Oswell & Vahida, acting together with Cleary Gottlieb and economic researchers Oxera, won on four of Ryanair’s complaints, the acceptance of any one of which would have been sufficient to annul the state aid. These included Lufthansa’s eligibility for the aid, the remuneration and exit of the state from Lufthansa’s share capital, Lufthansa’s significant market power at Düsseldorf and Vienna airports, and the European Commission’s failure to provide compelling arguments on favourable treatment with respect to take-off and landing slots at Frankfurt and Munich airports.

In the SAS case, the court accepted one of Ryanair’s arguments, on the inadequacy of a so-called step-up mechanism regarding the recapitalisation of the embattled airline. 

The Oswell & Vahida team was led by Esfandiar Vahida and Stefan Rating. The Cleary Gottlieb team was led by François-Charles Laprévote. The Oxera team was led by Nicole Robins. 

About Oswell & Vahida: 

www.ovlaw.eu 

For further information please contact: 

Esfandiar Vahida, Partner, evahida@ovlaw.eu

 

 

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