The European Commission found that the Italian scheme aimed at providing start-up aid to airlines starting new routes to the region of Calabria is in line with European rules on State aid.
The scheme aims at allowing the regional government of Calabria to subsidise up to half of the airport charges paid by airlines for the operation of new routes to or from the airports of Lamezia Terme, Reggio Calabria and Crotone for a period of up to three years. The new routes have to connect the region of Calabria with destinations not currently operated from its airports.
The aid, with a total budget of up to 12 million euro, will be granted to airlines following a call for proposals. Without appropriate incentives, airlines are not always prepared to run the risk of opening new routes from minor airports. According to the 2014 Commission’s Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines, it is possible to grant start-up aid to airlines during and even after the transitional period, if this provides them with the necessary incentive to create new routes from regional airports, increases the mobility of the citizens of the Union by establishing access points for intra-Union flights and stimulates regional development. As remote regions are penalised by their poor accessibility, start-up aid for routes from those regions is subject to more flexible compatibility criteria.
The Commission concluded that the project will improve connections with the Calabria region without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. It is, therefore, compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 107, paragraph 3, letter c), of the Treaty on the Functioning European Union (TFEU).