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European Commission approves aid to Flemish airports

Antwerp airport. © Belga

The European Commission has given the go-ahead to a plan by the Flemish government to grant €2.2 million in support to the airports of Ostend, Antwerp and Kortrijk.

The aid was originally announced in July, after three months of the coronavirus pandemic had left the three airports in a perilous cash-flow position. The package included subsidies for all three airports, as well as deferral of payments for concessions for the use of airport infrastructure, and for statutory support personnel at Antwerp and Ostend.

The Commission has now ruled that the aid is in line with the Temporary Framework agreed in March to adapt the system of state aid to the coronavirus situation. The changed circumstances allow member states to step in to help businesses with such measures as wage subsidies, suspension of corporate tax and VAT payments or social welfare contributions, or financial support directly to consumers for cancelled services or tickets not reimbursed by the concerned operators.

In general, the aid must be limited to €800,000 per undertaking, granted to businesses that were not previously in financial difficulties, whose troubles can be attributed to the coronavirus crisis. The possibility of granting such state aid expires at the end of December.

In its ruling, the Commission said the airport aid was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State”.

Under the same heading, the Commission also approved a German aid measure to compensate youth hostels, school country homes, youth education centres and family holiday centres in Bavaria for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times