The European Commission has ordered Ryanair to repay more than 300,000 euros ($400,000) provided by a German airport to sustain the Irish budget airline's business, ruling it amounted to illegal state aid.
Ryanair says it plans to appeal Wednesday's judgment that the airline exploited tiny Leipzig-Alternberg Airport in eastern Germany with a 2010 marketing contract that benefited Ryanair, not the airport.
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The judgment concluded that the marketing deal to promote the airport on Ryanair's Web sites offered no prospect of returning a profit to the airport "even in the long term."
Ryanair operated from the airstrip south of Leipzig from 2003 to 2011. During that period the Dublin-based carrier rapidly expanded its route network across Europe by negotiating hardball contracts with small, disused regional airports.