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EU General Court Judgment in Case T-522/20 Carpatair v Commission
Wednesday 8th February 2023
Judgment in Case T-522/20 Carpatair v Commission
Timisoara International Airport, located in eastern Romania, is operated by Societatea Națională “Aeroportul Internaţional Timişoara – Traian Vuia” SA (hereinafter “AITTV”), which is a joint stock company whose state Romanian holds 80% of the shares.
In anticipation of the increase in traffic expected to result from Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007, and in order to meet the security conditions for accession to the Schengen area, AITTV has received Romanian State financing for the construction of a terminal for non-Schengen flights and for security equipment.
Furthermore, as part of a strategy aimed at attracting low-cost airlines and increasing the overall profitability of the airport, AITTV signed in 2008 with Wizz Air Hungary Légiközlekedési Zrt (hereinafter “Wizz Air ), a Hungarian low-cost airline, agreements defining the principles of their cooperation as well as the general conditions of use of airport infrastructure and services by Wizz Air (hereinafter the “2008 agreements”).
Two of these agreements were amended in 2010 by means of a new discount scheme agreed between Wizz Air and AITTV (hereinafter the “2010 Amending Agreements”). In accordance with the Aeronautical Information Publications (hereinafter the “AIPs”) of 2007, 2008 and 2010, Wizz Air has also benefited from discounts and rebates on airport charges.
In 2010, the Romanian regional airline Carpatair SA lodged a complaint with the European Commission questioning aid granted by the Romanian authorities to the international airport of Timisoara in favor of Wizz Air.
By decision of 24 February 2020 (‘the contested decision’), the Commission considered, on the one hand, that the public funding granted between 2007 and 2009 to AITTV for the development of the terminal for non-Schengen flights, the the improvement of the traffic lane, the extension of the apron and the beaconing material constitutes State aid which is compatible with the internal market under Article 107(3)(c), TFEU.
On the other hand, the Commission noted that the public financing of the access road and the development of the car park in 2007 and of the safety equipment in 2008, the airport charges appearing in the PIAs of 2007, 2008 and 2010 and the 2008 agreements concluded with Wizz Air, including the amending agreements of 2010, do not constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.
Carpatair SA has brought an action seeking the annulment of this decision.