In its formal investigation, Brussels concluded that, in granting the bridge loan of 400 million euros to Alitalia on 26 October 2019 – commissioned in May 2017 -, “Italy did not behave as a private operator would have done”
The European Commission has concluded that the €400 million bridging loan granted to Alitalia in 2019 constitutes illegal state aid under EU rules. Italy must therefore now recover the illegitimate state aid, plus interest, from the company. This was announced by the EU executive itself.
The faults of Italy
In its formal investigation, Brussels concluded that, in granting the bridge loan of 400 million euros to Alitalia on 26 October 2019 – commissioned in May 2017 -, “Italy did not behave as a private operator would have done, not having evaluated in advance the probability of repayment of the loans, plus interest, but concentrated” only on wanting to “guarantee the continuity of the service of Alitalia’s national and international flights”.
The violations in both 2017 and 2021
The European Commission considered that the aid could not be approved under the EU guidelines on rescue and restructuring aid, noting that the company had already benefited from previous aid, namely the two loans granted to Alitalia in 2017 by 900 million euros, never repaid and already declared illegal by Brussels in September 2021. Even “the new loan” of 400 million euros, explained the EU Antitrust, “violated the one-off obligation set by the guidelines” community.
The refund is not due to Ita Airways
On this basis, Brussels concluded that “no private investor” at the time would have exposed itself by granting a loan to the company, and that “the aid has given Alitalia an unfair economic advantage over its competitors on national, European and global routes “, representing “incompatible state aid”. The Commission, it is specified, “already noted in September 2021” that the new Ita Airways “is not the economic successor” of the company, despite having taken over some assets, and “that it is therefore not required to repay the aid received from Alitalia “.