The European Commission has released new guidelines covering state aid for airlines and airports. Part of the commission's ‘State Aid Modernisation’ (SAM) strategy, the new rules aim to support aviation businesses while minimising distortions of competition in the single market. Joaquín Almunia, the commission's VP in charge of competition policy, said the rules will “ensure fair competition regardless of the business model – from flag carriers to low-cost airlines and from regional airports to major hubs. Our aim is to ensure the mobility of citizens, while preserving a level playing field between airports and airlines.” Under the new regulations, start-up airlines are allowed funds to launch a new route for a limited time period. “The compatibility conditions for start-up aid to airlines have been streamlined and adapted to recent market developments," the commission said in a statement. State aid for airport infrastructure is allowed, "if there is a genuine transport need and the public support is necessary to ensure the accessibility of a region". The rules define the maximum aid allowed, which is higher for smaller airports. Regional airports with less than three million passengers a year will be allowed operating aid for a period of 10 years, under certain conditions.