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Ryanair readies for battle as Italy nears EU deal on newest state-owned carrier

written by Hannah Dowling | June 7, 2021

Ryanair has promised to appeal against a €3 billion injection by the Italian government into its newest airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo, set to replace its unprofitable predecessor Alitalia.

Speaking with an Italian news publication on Saturday, Ryanair DAC chief executive Eddie Wilson said that Ryanair would not hesitate to launch an appeal against the Italian government’s €3 billion injection into its newest airline, ITA, as the carrier considers this to be illegal state support.

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“As soon as this money will be injected in the newco we will take the [necessary] steps,” Wilson said.

“We are waiting to see, but it is clear that it is illegal [government] aid and we will defend our interest by appealing against this umpteenth loan.”

As it stands, Italy is nearing a deal with the European Commission to launch Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which is planned to become a brand new state-owned flag carrier for Italy, ultimately replacing the current loss-making national airline, Alitalia.

The deal hinges on Italy showcasing to the EU that its newest airline venture will be entirely independent of its now-bankrupt previous flag carrier.

“I have the impression that there’s nothing new, ITA will just be the extension of Alitalia … with the same problems seen for decades, money being drained from public resources into an airline that today, like yesterday, will lose money,” Wilson said.

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Italy needs to provide no financial continuity between the two carriers, or ITA will become liable for Alitalia’s excessive debt.

Current negotiations suggest ITA will only be granted half of Alitalia’s airport slots, and just under half of both its aircraft fleet and existing workforce, however, Italy’s new venture will not be allowed to retain Alitalia’s branding, loyalty program, nor its client base.

The remainder of Alitalia’s assets will be tendered off, in a process where ITA will be allowed to bid together with other interested parties.

Ryanair last week urged the European Commission to require ITA to bid competitively to take on Alitalia’s airport slots.

Ryanair, which now boasts 15 bases in Italy alone, has not been shy with its intentions to take over failed Alitalia’s airport slots.

Italy had assumed the EU approval process for its latest airline would be complete in time to launch ITA in April this year, however, has now said it intends to launch in September

An EU investigation into the €1.3 billion of government aid given to Alitalia is also nearing its end, with decisions on both cases expected within weeks.

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