Ryanair has lost a legal bid to overturn a European Court of Justice decision which could have forced the new owners of Alitalia to pay back state loans.
The ECJ rejected Ryanair's appeal against a 2012 judgement by the European General Court that while the Italian government's loan of €300 million ($400 million) constituted illegal state aid under European law, the sale of parts of Alitalia's assets to new owners - Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI) - did not lead to CAI benefitting from the loan.
Judging on points of law, the ECJ ruled that the General Court was correct to decide the Commission had the power to lawfully adopt a decision finding the absence of state aid but noting "commitments entered into by Italy".
It also rejected Ryanair's claim that the Commission had carried out an incomplete examination of the reductions in burdens and "other advantages allegedly granted by Italian legislation to CAI" and said the Commission had not "distorted" the evidence it used to support its decision that CAI was "not the economic successor" of Alitalia.
In response, Ryanair says: "Alitalia has received over €3.3 billion in state aid over the last 10 years, a subsidy of approximately €50 from each and every Italian citizen. Despite being so artificially propped up at the expense of the Italian taxpayer, Alitalia's current perilous financial positioning shows that it has failed to adapt to the realities of the liberalised market."