By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European budget carrier Wizz Air on Wednesday lost its fight against 62 million euros ($67.2 million) in state aid granted to its Romanian rival Blue Air after Europe’s second-top court backed EU competition regulators’ decision to approve the subsidies.
The European Commission in its 2020 decision said a 28-million-euro guarantee to compensate pandemic-hit Blue Air and a 34-million-euro guarantee to cover its urgent liquidity needs due to losses from the pandemic complied with the bloc’s state aid rules.
Wizz Air, whose main operations are in central and eastern Europe, subsequently challenged the EU executive’s approval at the Luxembourg-based General Court. A number of carriers have sued the Commission for clearing similar aid to their rivals.
Judges rejected Wizz Air’s arguments.
“The action against the Commission’s decision approving the aid granted by Romania to the airline Blue Air in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic is dismissed in its entirety,” the Court said.
Wizz Air can appeal on points of law to the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s highest.
The case is T-142/21 Wizz Air Hungary v Commission (Blue Air; COVID-19 and recovery aid).
($1 = 0.9232 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Christina Fincher)