EU approves EUR12.8M in Italy aid for Alitalia

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Commission on Wednesday cleared Italy to give EUR12.8 million in state aid to the floundering Alitalia airline to help it absorb the losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The European Commission has found that an Italian aid measure of EUR12.835 million to support Alitalia is in line with European Union (EU) state aid rules,” said a Commission statement.

“This measure aims at compensating the airline for the damages suffered on certain routes due to the coronavirus outbreak during the month of January 2021,” it added.

Alitalia is on the brink of bankruptcy and last year the authorities in Rome earmarked EUR3 billion for its relaunch.

But the plan to transfer Alitalia’s assets to a new company free of debts has stalled.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – who could block the rescue plan under the bloc’s state aid rules – has been in talks with Italy’s industry, labour and economy ministers, so far without reaching an agreement.

Alitalia has been losing money for years now and was placed under state administration in 2017. Since then, Italy has searched in vain for someone to take it on.

An Airbus A320 bearing the livery of Alitalia airline takes off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport. PHOTO: AFP