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"What About The Consumers?" - Hudghton
SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton has urged the European Commission to think about the consumers before it acts on strict new rules to penalise low cost airlines. Mr Hudghton raised the case of Ryanair in a special session of the European Parliament. Ryanair faces being forced to repay millions in state aid received to encourage the airline to use Charleroi airport near Brussels, Belgium.
One of the destinations served by the route is Glasgow Prestwick and there are fears that the route could be under threat if the European Commission goes ahead with forcing Ryanair to repay the subsidies.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ian Hudghton MEP said:
"Last week the European Commission ruled against the level of assistance being given by Charleroi airport near Brussels to Ryanair. Not only do I sympathise with Charleroi airport authorities, I admire them for acting to stimulate much-needed economic growth and jobs, in the light of declining traditional industries.
"The benefits of low-cost air travel have been felt over a much wider area than just around Charleroi. The route from Glasgow-Prestwick to Charleroi is the only air link from the west of Scotland, a very populous area, to the capital of Europe area. While I recognise that the Commission sees fit to implement state aid regulations in certain ways, what about the consumers?
"The Commission's decision also has much wider implications for Scottish travellers and trade. Scotland is on the edge of Europe and we are not served by good transport links. Cheap air travel has given both our travellers and businesses exciting opportunities which simply were not there in the past. Is the Commission going to ignore the immense economic opportunities offered by low cost airlines? And where does the consumer figure in all of this? This approach is utterly unacceptable and needs an urgent rethink."