The General Court (in T-442/07) has found that the European Commission failed in its obligation by not defining its position in response to complaints by Ryanair that the Italian government had granted state aid to Italian airlines Alitalia and Volare.

In 2005, Ryanair complained that the Italian government had written off massive amounts of debt accumulated by Alitalia, financed redundancy payments owed by Italian airlines and granted rebates on fuel costs through the imposition of charges on all airlines operating in Italy. It also complained that €35m was awarded to Alitalia by way of compensation for loss caused by the September 11 attacks and that the airline benefitted from reductions in airport charges at hub airports.

The General Court dismissed some of Ryanair’s claims but concluded that in relation to several complaints, the Commission had failed to state its position. In those instances, the Commission should have carried out an examination and either informed Ryanair that there were insufficient grounds for taking a view or made a decision on the existence of state aid.