April 12, 2019 / 2:52 PM / 6 months ago

Lufthansa loses challenge to EU-approved aid for Frankfurt's Hahn airport

FILE PHOTO: A view of an office building of German airline Lufthansa in Frankfurt, Germany March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lufthansa on Friday lost its court challenge against millions of euros in state aid being granted to Frankfurt-Hahn airport to the benefit of rival Ryanair, after failing to prove the payments dented its revenue or market share.

The German carrier took its case to the Luxembourg-based General Court after EU antitrust regulators in 2014 gave the green light to a series of support measures for the airport, which is 82.5-percent owned by China’s HNA Group with the rest held by the German state of Hesse.

The support given to the airport, which is only used by Ryanair and Wizz Air, included capital increases totaling 49 million euros ($55.5 million), direct grants and a charging scheme.

The German airline argued that many of the benefits of the aid were passed on to Ryanair, which was not paying high enough airport charges.

But Europe’s second-highest court said that Lufthansa had failed to show it took a financial hit or lost market share as result of the measures.

The airline can appeal at the Court of Justice of the European Union but only on points of law. The case is T-492/15 Deutsche Lufthansa v Commission.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Kirsten Donovan

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