The European Commission has opened a probe into state aid to Frankfurt's Hahn airport and contracts with discount airline Ryanair which has one of its biggest European hubs there.
Ryanair is accused of profiting from reduced fees at the Hahn airport
The European Commission in Brussels said on Tuesday, June 17, it was investigating whether the airport received aid from regional authorities in the states of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as the airport's state-owned parent company Fraport after receiving complaints. The probe focuses in particular on two cash injections in 2002 and 2004.
The commission, Europe's top competition watchdog, said it would also scrutinize fees at the airport and in particular individual contracts with Irish low-cost airline Ryanair which is the biggest carrier at the airport.
German airline Lufthansa has complained in the past that Ryanair benefitted from reduced take-off and landing fees at the airport, arguing that it amounted to an illegal state subsidy.
Hahn airport, which is located around 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Frankfurt, is 65-percent owned by Frankfurt airport operator Fraport, while the regional state authorities of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate hold 17.5 percent apiece. Ryainair has one of its biggest European hubs at the Hahn airport.
The economy ministry in Rhineland-Palatinate said it had submitted a comprehensive report to the European Commission which showed that both Fraport and Hahn had behaved like "market-driven private investors."