Until recently, the public financing of the construction or the enlargement of airport infrastructure was considered by the European Commission as a general measure of economic policy which fell outside the scope of the EC Treaty rules on State aid. In 2005, the European Commission adopted the Community Guidelines on financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports2 (hereafter the 'Guide lines') which completely overturned that principle.
Airport operators now have to bear all the financing and construction costs of the infrastructure they manage. Under certain conditions, regional airports may receive aids which have to be notified and formally authorized by the Commission. After brief description of the notion of State aid in Chapter I and a presentation of the Commission prior practice on the financing of airport infrastructure under Chapter II, Chapter III will describe the new policy of the Commission, first on the existence of State aid, then on the conditions under which an aid in favor of regional airports may be authorized by the Commission.