EU Court Annuls French Pandemic Aid for Air France-KLM After Challenge by Ryanair and Malta Air

The General Court of the EU annulled the pandemic state aid program for Air France-KLM after a challenge by Ryanair and Malta Air. The ruling stated that the European Commission "erred" in approving the French government's financial aid, and Ryanair welcomed the decision as a triumph for fair competition.

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French pandemic aid: A top EU court has overturned an Air France-KLM pandemic state assistance scheme that had been challenged by competitors Ryanair and Malta Air.

The European Commission “erred” in accepting the French government’s financial help for Air France-KLM, according to the General Court.

After the pandemic grounded the aviation sector in 2020, the group got billions of euros from the state, which has since been returned with interest.

According to the court, Ryanair and Malta Air contended that the regulations were “contrary to EU law.”

The two airlines claimed that the commission “incorrectly defined the beneficiaries” when it determined that neither the group’s parent company nor Dutch carrier KLM were receivers of the help.

The verdict was noted by Air France-KLM.

“Air France-KLM and Air France will carefully study these judgments and assess their implications,” stated the firm in a statement.

“They will consider whether to lodge an appeal on points of law before the Court of Justice of the European Union,” the statement went on to say.

Ryanair has applauded the decision.

“One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a true single market for air transport,” a Ryanair official stated.

“The European Commission’s approval of the French State aid to Air France-KLM went against the fundamental principles of EU law, like the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of nationality,” the officials added.

“Today’s decisions confirm that the Commission must act as a defender of the level playing field in air transport and cannot sign off on discriminatory State aid granted by national governments.” The involvement of the Court is a victory for fair competition and consumers throughout the EU.”

In May, the General Court ruled with Ryanair in a dispute challenging huge government bailouts for German airline Lufthansa and Scandinavian airline SAS during the epidemic.

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