A new Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) could be launched in “a matter of a few days” now that EU regulators have cleared EUR199.45 million euros (USD236 million) in state aid for the troubled carrier, to compensate for damages suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.

The support will take the form of a direct grant for this amount, which corresponds to estimated damages that the virus directly caused to the airline from March 1 to June 15. The commission said it considered the outbreak to be an exceptional occurrence and an extraordinary, unforeseeable event, with significant economic impact.

The European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, cautioned in a statement, however, that investigations into past support for the airline are still ongoing and that the commission is in contact with Rome on compliance with EU regulations.

“We continue working with member states to find workable solutions to support companies in these difficult times, in line with EU rules. At the same time, our investigations into past support measures to Alitalia are ongoing and we are in contact with Italy on their plans and compliance with EU rules,” Vestager said.

The most recent measure is proportionate, she added, as “the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage.”

Following the approval, Italy's transport minister, Paola De Micheli, revealed on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum economic conference that newco flag carrier Alitalia-Tai could now be launched in “a matter of a few days”, the newspaper Corriere della Sera revealed.

“I really hope to have news in the middle of the week,” she added.

The minister is already scheduled to report to the country's parliament “on the economic and financial situation and development prospects of Alitalia” on September 9.

Nevertheless, the two earlier investigations on state aid to Alitalia are still ongoing. On April 23, 2018, the commission opened - “on the basis of complaints received” - a formal investigation procedure on a EUR900 million (USD1.06 billion) loan the Italian government gave to Alitalia in 2017. A separate probe was then opened on February 28, 2020, to look into an additional EUR400 million (USD473 million) loan granted in October 2019.