A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 aircraft lands at Barcelona's 'El Prat' airport on September 28, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Brussels: Ryanair on Thursday lost a court battle against a 10-billion euro ($11 billion) Spanish solvency scheme for pandemic-hit companies approved by EU competition enforcers four years ago, one of a number of lawsuits the company has launched against rivals benefiting from state aid.

The European Commission gave the green light to the scheme in 2020, saying it was compatible with EU rules. During the pandemic, it cleared billions of euros in state aid to COVID-hit airlines across the bloc as well as companies in other sectors.

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Ryanair had challenged the Spanish scheme at a lower tribunal but lost in 2021, prompting the company to appeal to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Europe's highest.

CJEU judges dismissed Ryanair's arguments.

"The Court upholds the (European) Commission's decision authorising the solvency support fund for strategic Spanish undertakings," the Court ruled.

"The exceptional nature and the particular weight of the objectives pursued by that aid scheme permit the inference that a fair balance was struck between its beneficial effects and its adverse effects on the internal market, with the result that it is in the common interest of the European Union." The judgment is final and cannot be appealed. Ryanair has won a number of its challenges and lost others.

The case is C-441/21 P | Ryanair v Commission.