The European Union’s (EU) second highest court last week rejected Ryanair’s legal challenge to state aid given to rival airlines during the pandemic.  The Dublin-based airline said that it will appeal. “Now is the time for the European Commission to stop caving into national governments’ inefficient bailout policies and start protecting the single market, Europe’s greatest asset for future economic recovery,” it said in a statement.

Ryanair’s spokesperson said: “One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport, underpinned by the principle of a common EU airline licence – one for each airline.  A nationality condition in a State aid scheme is plainly incompatible with the single market.”

“Ryanair is a truly European airline.  We have no rich and powerful ‘home country’ to subsidise us in times of trouble.  Nor do we want discriminatory aid.  Our instinct in a crisis is to seek efficiencies and cost savings, to offer more routes at lower fares – while remaining Europe’s greenest airline.

According to Ryanair during the Covid-19 pandemic over €30bn in discriminatory State subsidies has been gifted to EU flag carriers. “If allowed to stand, this will 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.

Figures quoted by Ryanair include €11bn to Lufthansa, € to Air France/KLM and €3.5bn to Alitalia.