Decision soon on Alitalia repaying millions in aid- EU's Vestager

EU Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference on Broadcom in Brussels, Belgium October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A decision on whether Alitalia will have to pay back millions of euros in state aid is not far off, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday.

“A decision is not too far in the calendar because we have worked this case a lot,” Vestager told a news conference.

Italy has decided to renationalise the loss-making airline

after 11 difficult years as a private company and three failed restructuring attempts.

In 2017 Rome granted a bridge loan worth 900 million euros (776.22 million pounds), which has not been paid back, and at the beginning of this year it pumped in a further 400 million euros.

The European Commission has been investigating whether this state aid gives the airline an unfair advantage.

Citing EU rules, Vestager said a new company would have to be materially different from the original firm to avoid being liable to repay state aid.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Jason Neely