Date: 08 Jun 2006 00:00Source: Lloyd's Register - Fairplay
P&O Ferries is considering its legal options after an appeal against a ruling that said the company received illegal state aid, was turned down by the European Court of Justice on 1 June. The new ruling from the court in Luxembourg confirms that P&O received subsidies from Basque institutions when it launched its Portsmouth-Bilbao line 15 years ago.
"We need to consider the options before deciding how to proceed following the case; we have not had a chance to take advice," a P&O spokesman said.
The new ruling says P&O will now have to return almost euro6M ($7.67M) of alleged illegal public subsidies. The ruling comes after P&O adjusted its deal with Basque institutions following an initial ruling against the ferry company. The legal case against P&O was brought forward in 1992 by rival ferry operator Brittany Ferries which had argued that the upfront purchase of 26,000 ferry tickets by Basque institutions had affected fair competition.