ERR News readers agree with EC's Estonian Air decision (1)
Last week, following the European Commission's decision to force Estonia's national airline Estonian Air pay back tens of millions of euros of state aid, a decision that led the carrier to fold almost instantly, ERR News asked its readers whether they agreed with the ruling. The majority did.
Of the 175 respondents, over 65 percent said the EC made the right decision by ruling that Estonia had breached the rules of fair competition. Less than 34 percent thought the decision was unfair.
Clyde Kull, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the EU, agreed with the latter sentiment: “I am deeply convinced that the decision was discriminating, that it was unfair.” Kull cited positive decisions about state aid received by the Greek airline Olympic, Italy's Alitalia, and France's Air France, as well as Air Malta and airBaltic.
One could see lack of communication to the EC behind this negative decision, he told ETV. Estonia was simply late in explaining its actions to the Commission.
“The Commission has an enourmous amount of expertize, this should really be respected,” aviation analyst Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus said. “I know one case – it was Malta – where the ambassador, the permanent representative, was always commuting between Valletta and Brussels to make sure that all of the information about this case was made clear and explained to the decision-makers in the Commission,” he said, adding that this was the key for Air Malta to have the state aid approved.