Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) will lodge an appeal in the European courts against the EUR3 billion euros (USD3.65 billion) in Italian state funds allocated to ITA - Italia Trasporto Aereo (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), the government-owned Italian airline that is likely to replace Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), as the Irish LCC considers it illegal state support, its chief executive Eddie Wilson told La Repubblica newspaper in an interview on June 5.

“As soon as this money is injected into the newco, we will take our steps. We’ll wait and see, but it is clear that this is illegal aid, and we will defend our interests by appealing against this latest loan,” he said.

“I have the impression that there is nothing really new, that in the end, ITA will just be an extension of Alitalia, with the usual problems already seen for decades, money drained from public resources to pour into a company that today, as in the past, will lose money,” he added.

Asked whether any of the flag carrier’s assets, if put to auction, would be of interest to Ryanair, Wilson said: “Certainly the Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino slots, which Alitalia, at the invitation of the European Commission, should leave in favour of its competitors. We are interested in that part.”

The low-cost carrier is closely monitoring developments on the issue, he continued, as “the market has changed and we are convinced that on short and medium-haul flights ITA will not have great opportunities to fly effectively. [...] The only chances I see for Alitalia are on long haul. Intercontinental flights have their own reason for existing on the Italian market if they are operated by Alitalia.”

Despite the “excellent relationship” Ryanair has with Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa, if the opportunity arose for slots at Linate, “we would not hold back,” although “it is a costly airport, so we will evaluate,” the chief executive said.

Italy is a vital market for Ryanair, as “it accounts for 32% of our total business with a 28% market share,” Wilson said. “We believe we can grow further in Italy.”