Skip to content
Subscriber Only

EU Takes Aim at Airport Subsidies—and Ryanair

Ryanair airplanes waiting at airport gates
Ryanair airplanes waiting at airport gatesPhotograph by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

In a move that could shake up the business model of low-cost airline Ryanair, European Union antitrust regulators want to phase out most government subsidies for unprofitable European airports. The plan could lead to higher operating costs for carriers that operate out of smaller, secondary airports; Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discounter, flies almost exclusively to such airports.

“Airport overcapacity gives airlines an opportunity to shop around for subsidies at taxpayers’ expense,” EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said earlier this week. “Just like other economic activities, airports should recover their operating costs from those that use them, namely airlines and passengers.”