State aid: Commission approves €5 million Slovenian public support to compensate the Fraport Slovenija for damages caused by coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €5 million Slovenian aid measure to compensate Fraport Slovenija, d.o.o., the operator of Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport for the damage it suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport is Slovenia’s only airport for international scheduled passenger flights. Due to the measures that Slovenia implemented to limit the spread of the virus, all airlines operating at Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport had to cease their flight operations on 17 March 2020. This resulted in high operating losses for the airport. The flight restrictions were gradually lifted by Slovenian authorities as of 12 May 2020 and air traffic operations started resuming on 29 May 2020. However, in the absence of domestic scheduled passenger flights within Slovenia, the airport depended on the lifting of travel restrictions in other countries to start again its operations and thus traffic only started to resume noticeably in July 2020. The aid measure, which will take the form of a direct grant, will allow the Slovenian authorities to compensate the airport for the revenue losses suffered during the period between 17 March and 30 June 2020. The aid measure includes a claw-back mechanism, whereby any possible public support in excess of the actual damage received by the beneficiary will have to be paid back to the Slovenian State. The risk of the State aid exceeding the damage is therefore excluded. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies for the damages directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the measure will compensate the damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is in line with EU State aid rules. More information on actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.59994 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.