12 November 2019, the European Commission approved investment and operating aid granted by the Flemish Region to Antwerp airport and Ostend–Bruges airport.

Both Flemish airports have been managed since 2014 by the French group Egis I assisted on the matter.

In the case of Antwerp airport, the investment aid of EUR 8.96 million is for modernizing security and safety infrastructure. The subsidy for management costs covers security, which falls outside the scope of State aid rules, and safety, which is an economic activity, for an amount of EUR 1.7 million. The European Commission declared that the aid in both cases is compatible with the common market as the measures improve connectivity from and to Antwerp and facilitate the development of the city and, more widely, the Flemish Region. Furthermore, it noted that the airport’s growth would not impact other airports nearby, such as Brussels Airport (45km away) or Eindhoven Airport, which is 85km from Antwerp.

The investment aid and the operating aid of EUR 2.3 million in favour of Ostend–Bruges airport has also been approved by the European Commission under State aid rules. It concluded that such aid would facilitate the development of the Flemish Region without unduly distorting competition in the EU.

It should be emphasized that notification of aid for airports remains very rare in comparison with the number of non-viable airports in Europe which cannot survive without subsidies.

For reminder, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the application of its 2014 Aviation Guidelines, giving stakeholders the opportunity to let their voice be heard.

The Commission will now review their comments and draw lessons from them before proposing modifications to its Guidelines.

To be continued …