Bailout of Portugal’s struggling TAP airline faces EU probe
The EU anti-trust authority opened an investigation Friday into Portugal’s multi-billion-euro bailout of struggling national airline TAP, amid a legal campaign by low-cost carrier Ryanair to stop pandemic-linked state rescues.
Last month, Portugal formally notified the European Commission of its 3.2-billion-euro ($3.8 billion) bailout plan which includes 2,000 job losses, salary cuts and a reduction in the company’s fleet.
The European Commission added that it was re-approving aid of 1.2 billion euros to TAP that was struck down by the EU’s General court, following a lawsuit by Ryanair.
The EU’s lower court in May said the European Commission failed to make its case when approving the bailout, handing a rare victory to Ryanair.
The EU “today re-approves the rescue aid and further specifies the reasons for approving the aid,” a statement said.
Ryanair — Europe’s biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers — has also sought to undo the massive bailout of Lufthansa, Air France and other major EU airlines, mostly without success.
Ryanair has estimated the total state aid to airlines approved by Brussels since the beginning of the pandemic at more than 30 billion euros ($36 billion), including 11 billion to Lufthansa, 10.6 billion to Air France-KLM, 3.5 billion to Alitalia and 1.3 billion to SAS.