On 7 February 2005, the European Commission published draft “Community guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports” for consultation. This article focuses on the Draft Guidelines’ statements on “start-up aid,” which seek to integrate the Commission’s statements in last year’s Charleroi decision into a consistent state aid policy framework. It is submitted here that such an attempt is highly problematic, given the absence of a coherent and objective justification for start-up aid in its proposed form. The Commission should not depart from its long-standing hostility to operating aid for reasons of perceived political expediency. At the very least, the Commission should limit the distortive effects of such aid to the greatest possible extent, in particular by limiting it to routes to and from truly regional airports.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Date of this Version

April 2005