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Ryanair lodges EU compaint over Alitalia bailout

Ryanair has submitted a formal complaint to the EU Commission regarding the bailout of Alitalia. Ryanair’s action comes after the Italian Government announced that it had reached agreement with Alitalia’s unions regarding an offer made by a consortium of Italian investors (CAI).Ryanair argues this ongoing protection of flag carriers by their member state governments increasingly makes a mockery of the EU Commission’s enforcement of the state aid rules.

Announcing the complaint, Ryanair’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Jim Callaghan, said: “This is the latest and perhaps most blatant example of the Italian Government doing whatever it takes to protect their failed airline, Alitalia.  It is also the second time that they have used the trick of simply shifting debt out of the airline and into a subsidiary in order to keep the airline afloat.  In this instance, the Italian government is writing off up to €2bln. in Alitalia debts and is guaranteeing the investments by the members of the consortium and underwriting huge concessions to the unions in exchange for their agreement to these ludicrous plans.”

“However, despite the blatant nature of the Italian Government’s breaches of the EU state aid rules, we have no doubt that the EU Commission will again rubber stamp this unlawful bailout, as they did 3 years ago and more recently in a similar case involving Olympic.  In such case, Ryanair will appeal this decision to the European courts to expose the corrupt and biased application by the Commission of its own state aid rules.

“Ryanair has already been forced to take several cases against the Commission for its failure to take action against other blatant breaches of the state aid rules by member state governments to protect and bail out their inefficient flag carriers.  These repeated failures by the Commission are contributing to a massively distorted playing field in European aviation.”