Ryanair (FR, Dublin International) has lost an appeal before the European Union’s General Court regarding a EUR600 million euro (USD650 million) cash injection to Finnair (AY, Helsinki Vantaa) during the Covid-19 pandemic that was guaranteed by the Finnish government.

Finland had issued the state aid in the spring of 2020 in the form of a loan from a pension fund. The government guaranteed 90% of the sum, while the rest was covered by a commercial bank under normal market conditions. The guarantee was intended for use only if Finnair defaulted on the pension fund repayments, the court documents recounted.

The state aid was formally approved by the European Commission in May 2020, similarly to government assistance provided to other, mostly national carriers during the pandemic. In the latest ruling, the court noted that a collapse of Finnair "would have had serious consequences for the Finnish economy."

Ryanair had argued, among other things, that the state aid was discriminatory and that the judgment under appeal did not demonstrate “how the exclusive nature of the measure at issue, which benefited only Finnair, was ‘such as to deter it from providing services from Finland and to Finland, or from exercising its freedom of establishment in that Member State’.”

Ryanair has appealed multiple state aid decisions before the EU courts. The budget carrier won cases in 2021 regarding aid granted to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and TAP Air Portugal and it recently got the Commission to overturn its Condor state aid approval. Separately, the court dismissed Ryanair’s appeal against state aid SAS Scandinavian Airlines had received and its complaint over state aid to Austrian Airlines.

The Irish carrier must now also pay the costs of the proceedings of the appeal, including those of the European Commission. Ryanair did not reply to a request for comment by the time this article was published.