Ryanair has had its complaint over Covid-related government support by Sweden and Denmark for the SAS airline overturned by the European Court of Justice.

The court also upheld Finnish support for Finnair, saying the measure also complied with EU rules.

The ECJ ruled today that financial support for SAS following pandemic-related travel restrictions was permitted under EU state aid rules.

In April 2020, Denmark and Sweden gave SAS a revolving credit facility of up to €0.14 billion (1.5 billion Swedish kronor) as the airline struggled with cancelled or rescheduled flights.

The European Commission had approved the loans as, under the EU treaties, they qualified under exceptional occurrences provisions.

Ryanair sought to overturn the decision at the General Court of the European Court of Justice.

However, this morning the court confirmed that the measures were legal.

It ruled that the financial support was appropriate under Article 107(2) of the Lisbon Treaty even if it benefited only one individual company.

Consequently, the court held that the Commission had not erred in law solely because the aid measures for SAS did not benefit all of the victims of the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court also said the credit facility had been proportionate.

It said the Commission had insisted on reviewing the impact of the pandemic a number of months after the financial aid was granted to ensure that the airline had not been over-compenstated.

The ECJ said Swedish and Danish government support did not discriminate against other operators since SAS already had a large market share in those two countries compared to its closest competitors.

Meanwhile, judges said the Finnair state loan guarantee was necessary in order to remedy the serious disturbance in the Finnish economy in view of the importance of the carrier for that economy.

In a statement Ryanair said it intends to appeal the two judgements.

"The European Commission's approvals of the Finnish, Danish and Swedish State aid went against the fundamental principles of EU law," a spokesperson said.

"Today's judgments set the process of liberalisation in air transport back by 30 years by allowing Finland, Denmark and Sweden to give their national flag carriers a leg up over more efficient competitors, based purely on nationality."

The airline added that if Europe is to emerge from this crisis with a functioning single market, airlines must be allowed to compete on a level playing field and subsidies encourage inefficiency, harming consumers for decades to come.