EU Approve €26M Irish State Aid Scheme for Airports

Source: Alan Dwyer, Flying in Ireland Online 

Minister for Transport, Eamonn Ryan T.D. and Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton have announced that the European Commission has given approval under EU State aid rules, for a €26 million Irish aid scheme to compensate airport operators for the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state aid package includes compensation of approximately €20m for State airports in light of the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on these airports in 2020.

This aid is part of the €80 million funding package agreed by the Government in November 2020, specifically for Irish aviation in recognition of the very difficult circumstances facing the sector. Also provided in that package is €21.3 million for the Regional Airports Programme and €32.1 million for a new COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme. Under these programmes, the airports of Donegal, Kerry, Knock, Cork and Shannon will have access to capital and operational supports in 2021.

Speaking on the announcement, Minister for Transport, Minister Ryan said, “This funding will provide the airports of Dublin, Shannon and Cork with the flexibility to roll out route incentives /charge rebates, in consultation with airlines, with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity when circumstances allow”.

Also commenting was Minister for State Hildegarde Naughton, who added, “In recognition of the continuing difficulty being faced by our smallest regional airports that provide connectivity, up to €6m will also be available to Knock, Kerry and Donegal airports under the EU Temporary Framework in light of the severe impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.”

In addition to this funding, over €200 million in horizontal support has also been provided to airports and airlines to date, through inter alia, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and commercial rates waiver. The government has confirmed that these general supports will now be extended until the end of June 2021.