European Commission passes judgement on subsidies
Regarding airfare subsidies for non-residents, the Regional Government of the Azores officially consulted the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) of the European Commission in order to clarify its interpretation of the compliance of such measure with the legal provisions of the European Union (EU).
Last week, the General Directorate notified the Azorean Government, signalling the “illegality of attributing financial compensation to reduce the prices of inter-island air travel for non-residents, which makes all these types of referrals unfeasible”, as expressed in the following text:
“Thus, with regard to your first question, the answer would be negative: it is not possible under the current legal framework to compensate the airline selected in the tender for the operation of the intra-Azores PSOs for decreasing prices for non-residents. On your second question, it would also not be possible to decrease prices for non-residents by amending the PSO without running again the tender.”The text of the European Commission decision on airfare subsidies
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DGMOVE) – Aviation policy – 5 April 2022
Mário Mota Borges, Regional Secretary for Transport, Tourism and Energy, highlights that “this information from the European Commission categorically corroborates the legal interpretation that the current Government of the Azores adopted in the revision of the Public Service Obligations and that has sustained its action since that moment”.
The official also expressed “concerns about what happened in the past and that may have undesirable consequences for the Region in the future”.
It is, therefore, “unequivocal” that, in this specific matter, the Regional Secretariat for Transport, Tourism and Energy, through the Regional Directorate for Air and Maritime Transport, “has prioritized, above all, the diligent defense of the interests of the Autonomous Region”. of the Azores but with a stance of restoring legality, transparency and the correct allocation of public resources”.
Government returns criticism to those who criticized its performance
With this clarification on airfare subsidies, the Regional Government of the Azores “deeply regrets the various and repeated public interventions on this topic produced by personalities with political responsibilities and even in the government area in the recent past”.
“The lack of credibility of these interventions is clearly exposed, since, without any legal basis or technical care, they defended violations of the law and the clear disavowal of the Union’s rules in this field”, says the minister.
In articulation with DGMOVE of the European Commission, the Government of the Azores “is already developing a possible solution that will make connections to islands without gateways more competitive and attractive, within the regulatory framework of the European Union, with a view to the need for a thorough work on the legal framework and the respective procedures under the legal provisions in force”.