Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt International) has finally lost a decades-long court battle with Frankfurt Hahn over discounted airport fees and other favourable conditions granted to Irish budget carrier Ryanair (FR, Dublin International), which the German flag carrier argued breached European Union state aid laws.

In a judgement on April 21, 2023, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court rejected the airline's appeal against a first-instance judgment of the Bad Kreuznach Regional Court of May 16, 2007, according to a report by Ryanair's legal representative in Germany's RWS Verlag.

The case dates back to 2006 when Lufthansa first brought legal action against Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn GmbH, at the time the majority shareholder of the now insolvent airport. Lufthansa sought recovery of alleged aid the airport had granted to Ryanair. It essentially claimed that airport fees charged by Frankfurt-Hahn in 2001 and 2006 were fixed based on contracts favouring Ryanair, which provided 95% of the passenger traffic at the airport at the time. It claimed that Ryanair had benefitted from particularly low fees due to reduced charges calculated based on the number of departing passengers and a subsidy known as "marketing support" granted where new routes were opened. Those measures were granted even though the airport was continuing to make losses. Lufthansa sought an order that the payments made to Ryanair through marketing support between 2002 and 2005 and those corresponding to the reduction in charges be recovered and that no future aid be granted to the budget carrier.

Since 2006, Lufthansa repeatedly unsuccessfully tried to reclaim the subsidies from Ryanair.

The German flag carrier last year also lost an appeal before the General Court of the European Union, where it took its case against Frankfurt-Hahn and Ryanair after the European Commission in 2014 gave the green light to a series of support measures for the airport.

Due to the parallel European component, the case was suspended several times over the past 17 years. The Koblenz Higher Regional Court confirmed the Commission's ruling on April 21, 2023.

According to the legal representative, the case now won at the Koblenz Higher Regional Court was not the only one in which such allegations of state aid were made against regional airports and their contracts with Ryanair, but because Ryanair had opened its largest hub at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, this was probably the most significant case.

Frankfurt-Hahn filed for bankruptcy on October 19, 2021, four years after an 82.5% stake was sold to China's HNA Group in 2017, while the German state of Hesse retained the rest. In June 2022, Frankfurt-based Swift Conjoy GmbH won the airport takeover tender, but as it failed to pay the required purchase price, the contract was dissolved in January 2023. Then, NR Holding, owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Kharitonin was expected to take over the airport, but creditors did not approve the sale to the billionaire. German real estate group Triwo AG won the renewed bidding process in February 2023. The company currently manages four airfields, including those of Oberpfaffenhofen and Zweibrücken.