The European Commission has approved the plan by the Italian authorities to sell the assets of the airline Alitalia, which had entered into financial difficulties, under a special insolvency procedure. The Commission concluded that the sale of the assets would not constitute a subsidy prohibited under EU State aid rules provided the assets are sold at market value and other conditions have been satisfied. An independent trustee has been appointed to oversee the sale by the administrator assigned under the special insolvency procedure.

The administrator has received a large number of bids from national and international operators for the assets. The largest bid has been made by Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI), which the Commission is satisfied has no continuous link with Alitalia. CAI will carry 69 per cent of the current passenger numbers of Alitalia with the remaining capacity going to other parties on the market.

The Commission has also closed its investigation into State aid of EUR 300 million received by Alitalia in the form of a loan which the Commission concluded was illegal State aid. The Commission is satisfied that Italy has taken the necessary steps to recover the loan. The plan for winding up Alitalia follows similar plans for Sabena and Olympic Airlines.