France notified the European Commission, in April 2020, of the granting of a 90% State guarantee for a loan of 4,000 million granted by a consortium of banks and public financing of 3,000 million. The injection was intended solely for Air France.

Almost a year later, in March 2021, the French Government notified a recapitalization of Air France and the holding company Air France – KLM, in the amount of 4,000 million, through a capital increase of up to 1 billion and the conversion of public financing into hybrid capital. The latter has already been returned by the group.

Brussels decided not to raise objections in both cases, considering the aid “compatible with the internal market”, but the Court of Justice of the European Union decided to uphold the challenge presented by Ryanair and Malta Air.

“The General Court considers that the European Commission made an error when it defined who the beneficiaries of the State aid granted were by excluding the holding company Air France-KLM and KLM from it,” the entity said in a statement. The Court concluded that the two companies “were likely to benefit, at least indirectly, from the advantage conferred by the State aid in question”.

Air France – KLM is one of those interested in the reprivatisation of TAP, which has since been frozen with the Government's resignation.

“The European Commission's Directorate General for Competition has not yet acted to force the recovery of the illegal aid, nor has it imposed any measures to remedy the damage to competition caused by the Swedish, Danish, German and Italian governments, which favour their local airlines in to the detriment of other EU airlines,” Ryanair said in a statement.

“Today’s rulings highlight the need for the European Commission to act immediately to recover these illegal state aid packages and impose remedies to offset at least some of the damage caused to competition,” adds the Irish carrier.

TAP was one of those targeted, with the Court annulling the injection of 1.2 billion in May 2021, forcing the European Commission to readopt the decision, opening an in-depth investigation into the state aid granted.