For many years, Lufthansa fought in court over marketing subsidies that flowed to the low-cost airline Ryanair in the years 2002 to 2005 around Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Now they suffered a final legal defeat, because the Koblenz Higher Regional Court dismissed the appeal of Germany's largest airline.
The activities of its competitor Ryanair at Hahn Airport have long been a thorn in Lufthansa's side. The fact that he received marketing grants, for example, was seen as a distortion of competition. Attempts were made in various ways to have this legally prevented, but the project was unsuccessful. For example, the company that operates Frankfurt-Hahn Airport was sued in vain, an unsuccessful appeal was lodged against subsidies that had flowed to the airport from the public purse, and Ryanair was also sued, although this was also unsuccessful. For example, the ECJ determined that Lufthansa is not a party to the state aid proceedings because the carrier does not fly from Frankfurt-Hahn at all.
The specific case, which has now been decided by the Koblenz Higher Regional Court, concerned so-called marketing grants that were transferred to Ryanair by Frankfurt-Hahn Airport between 2002 and 2005. Lufthansa was of the opinion that the carrier would also have benefited from particularly favorable airport charges. In 2006, a lawsuit was brought against what was then “Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn GmbH”.
A lawsuit was later brought before the European Union Court against a series of subsidies that the EU Commission approved in 2014 for Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. At the same time, legal action was taken against Ryanair and the airport. In the previous year, the supreme court ruled that Lufthansa does not have party status because it does not fly from Hahn. This procedure is important because the lawsuit, which has now been dismissed, has experienced a repeated stay of procedure, as the court of first instance wanted to wait for decisions at European level.
Lufthansa lost in the first instance. An appeal was lodged against the verdict, which was decided in April 2023. The Koblenz Higher Regional Court dismissed this and did not allow an ordinary revision. After more than 17 years of litigation, the Kranich Group has lost to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport.