Ryanair has been told to repay almost €9.6 million in illegal state aid it received from the French government for its operations at several regional airports.
The European Commission ruled the support Ryanair received, which related to rebates and marketing arrangements, had given it “an undue advantage” and should repay the money so as to “remove the distortion of competition”, the Commission said in a statement.
The EC said Ryanair had “paid less than the additional costs linked to its presence in the airport".
The airline said it would appeal the "erroneous" decision.
The EU competition watchdog said Ryanair would have to pay back about €6.4 million related to aid received for operating at Nimes Airport, and €2.4 million in aid connected to Pau Pyrenees Airport and about €868,000 related to Angouleme Airport.
The agreements at Angouleme, Pau Pyrenees and Nimes airports were in place at various times between 2000 and 2012.
Ryanair’s operations at three German airports were cleared by the inquiry but an investigation continues into Austria's Klagenfurt airport.
Ryanair welcomed the decision concerning Germany but confirmed it would appeal the fine at the French airports.
“We will immediately appeal the decisions in Pau, Angouleme and Nimes cases where the EU Commission mistakenly suggested that the airports’ agreements with Ryanair did not fully comply with the EU State aid rules,” said Ryanair’s director of legal and regulatory affairs, Juliusz Komorek.
Ryanair said the decision will not affect its expansion plans and it “remains committed to growing traffic from the current 85mppa to over 110mppa by FY2019”.