Estonian Competition Authority rejects Ryanair's airport fee appeal

The Estonian Competition Authority has rejected Ryanair's appeal against the increase in fees at Tallinn Airport. Following an analysis, the authority found that the price rises were justified.

Tallinn Airport announced it would be increasing airline fees last summer. According to the Estonian Aviation Act, Tallinn Airport is not obliged to coordinate fees with the Competition Authority prior to implementation. However, both airport users, in this case the airline, and the airport's management board are able to appeal to the Competition Authority to request an analysis of the justification for the change in the fees.

On October 31, 2022, Ryanair did just that, submitting a request to the Competition Authority to review the fee increases, while also filing a complaint against the airport.

In its decision of April 24, the Competition Authority found that Tallinn Airport's decision to increase charges was justified. The Competition Authority found, that Tallinn Airport had neither violated the law when setting the new airport fees, nor with the methodology it had used to calculate them.

However, the Competition Authority pointed out that Tallinn Airport is the largest international airport in Estonia and so there is no viable alternative for airlines flying in and out of the country. The airport is also required to continue to comply with the Competition Act. This means for instance, that contractual terms for using the airport's services cannot be agreed with one airline, which may leave others at a competitive disadvantage.

In accordance with the Aviation Act, Tallinn Airport must publish the new fees on its website in line with the decision of the Competition Authority. It may implement these fees two weeks after their publication.

Ryanair announced on February 1 that, from this spring, it will be discontinuing flights from Tallinn to Paris, Dublin, Nuremberg, Naples, Billund and Malta. It will also cut down on the number of flights to Berlin. Last December, the budget airline additionally stopped flying from Tallinn to Edinburgh and Liverpool.

"We regret that, despite Ryanair's many attempts to find a solution with Tallinn Airport and the Competition Authority, Tallinn Airport has moved ahead with its ill-considered and illogical decision to increase airport charges by an incredible 33 percent. As a result, Ryanair is reducing its summer schedule by 35 percent," said Ryanair spokesperson Dara Brady.

According to Tallinn Airport CEO Riivo Tuvike, the much-debated increase in airport tax was introduced to cover last year's €2.7 million loss in the aviation sector. Tuvike said, that if fees were not increased, the money to cover the losses would have had to be found from elsewhere.

While, according to unaudited figures, the Tallinn Airport group as a whole made a profit of €8.7 million last year, almost half of that came from the company's subsidiary Tallinn Airport GH. Tallinn Airport itself made a profit of around €5 million. However, had it not been for a €2.66 million loss in aviation, the group's total profit would have exceeded €10 million, Tuvike said.

Tallinn Airport last increased airport charges in 2009. However, with utility costs alone rising by more than €3.5 million last year, Tuvike said, that a fee increase this year was unavoidable.

"Last year, we made a loss of more than €1 million in aviation. With the step that we are now taking, we will reach zero. Our airport charges are still among the cheapest in Europe. Vilnius has similarly increased its charges, so we have more or less the same fees. The charges at Helsinki, which is right next to us, are around 50 percent higher. The average in Europe is even more expensive," said Tuvike.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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