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Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
pocket change

Ryanair ordered to pay Germany back €500,000, but everything else is grand

The budget airline’s passenger numbers keep growing and its planes are getting more full.

RYANAIR HAS REPORTED another boost in passengers a day after it was told to repay €500,000 in illegal subsidies from a German airport.

The Irish low-cost carrier said it had flown 400,000 more passengers in September than in the same month a year ago, an increase of 5% to 8.5 million customers.

Ryanair has been more successful at packing people on planes this year with its load factor – the share of its available seats being filled – up to 90% from 85% in September 2013.

The airline said its rolling annual traffic level was up 4% to 83.8 million people.

Airport saga ends in €500,000 fine

Yesterday Ryanair was ordered to pay back €500,000 the European Commission ruled it got in illegal state aid from the German government for its setup at Zweibrücken Airport.

But the Irish carrier’s arrangements with four other European airports were cleared in the decision, ending a long-running saga which stretched back to 1999.

Ryanair said all its airport arrangements were legal and it would appeal the ruling on Zweibrücken, where it stopped operating in 2009 after carrying just 50,000 passengers via the hub.

Flughafen Zweibrücken Terminal.jpg The bustling Zweibrücken Airport in Germany. Wikimedia Wikimedia

The budget airline’s legal and regulatory affairs director, Juliusz Komorek, said 10 of its deals that had been put under the microscope so far had been given the tick of approval and it had ferried 136 million people through those airports, compared to the tiny number it carried through Zweibrücken.

Ryanair recently announced it expected to make up to €650 million in profits this year.

Commission vice president Joaquín Almunia said airlines had to pay the fair costs of operating in an airport and there should be a level playing field for all European hubs and carriers.

“If they pay less, then this amounts to a hidden subsidy which distorts competition between airlines,” he said.

It ordered various airlines to pay back about €6 million in subsidies in yesterday’s ruling.

READ: Even Brian O’Driscoll fears the Ryanair check-in fee

READ: Ryanair thinks its new friendly approach is working

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