Ryanair has lost its latest set of challenges to pandemic bailouts for rival carriers after a European Union court declared that state subsidies for Finnair and SAS didn’t break state aid rules. In response, Ryanair said the judgement set the process of air transport liberalisation “back by 30 years.”
The court ruled that Swedish and Danish aid for SAS “does not amount to unlawful discrimination” and that a €600 million pension fund loan to Finnair was also in line with EU state aid law.
Ryanair has lodged 16 different challenges to various state interventions on behalf of struggling airlines, including a challenge to the German government’s €11 billion bailout of Lufthansa (that decision is expected later today).
In February, an EU court rejected Ryanair’s contention that loans to Air France and SAS were in contravention of the bloc’s laws on state aid. Ryanair had argued that over €30 billion in “discriminatory state subsidies” had been “gifted” to flag-carriers across the EU, which the airlines claims would “distort the level playing field in EU aviation for decades to come, giving chronically inefficient national airlines a leg up on their efficient low-fare competitors.”
Ryanair said that it will appeal today’s General Court judgments to the Court of Justice of the EU.