Ryanair loses EU legal case and accused of inflating traffic figures

Ryanair has suffered a fresh setback in court, losing its legal challenge to a European Commission decision over payments to the former Alitalia by the Italian government.

The General Court of the European Union dismissed Ryanair’s claim that a €300 million (£250 million) loan by the Italian government be repaid. It upheld the European Commission’s approval of the sale of Alitalia’s assets to CAI, a group of Italian investors, following the Italian airline’s bankruptcy in 2008.

The EC has previously ruled the state aid illegal but said CAI was not required to repay it.

The court confirmed this, ruling: “The sale did not have the effect of granting aid to the buyers of Alitalia.” Ryanair declined to comment, but could appeal.

In a statement, Alitalia said it was not the legal successor to the carrier that sought bankruptcy protection. Separately, Ryanair was under fire in the Italian media after claiming it carried more passengers than Alitalia last year in Italy.

Ryanair reported earlier this month it carried 28.1 million passengers “to, from and within Italy” in 2011. However, the Italian civil aviation administration ENAC confirmed Ryanair carried 22 million passengers on Italian flights, three million fewer than Alitalia.

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