State aid: Commission approves €130 million Italian scheme to compensate airlines for damage suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rule, a €130 million Italian scheme to compensate airlines for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. Under the scheme, the Italian authorities will be able to compensate airlines for the losses directly caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the travel restrictions that Italy and other countries had to implement to limit the spread of the coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 15 June 2020. The support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme includes a claw-back mechanism, whereby any possible public support in excess of the actual damage received by the beneficiaries will have to be paid back to the Italian State. The risk of the State aid exceeding the damage is therefore excluded. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which enables the Commission to approve State aid measures granted by Member States to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damages directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Italian measure will compensate damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate as the foreseen compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.59029 once confidentiality issues have been resolved.