The rescue of Air Europa was cut into pieces and thus avoided Brussels control

The rescue of Air Europa, which has returned to the media spotlight due to the “Koldo case”, was not only the largest and the fastest to process of all those granted by the Fund to Support the Solvency of Strategic Companies (Fasee) who managed the State Industrial Participations Company (SEPI) to face the effects of the pandemic but, in addition, dodged subsequent scrutiny by the European Commission.

The Council of Ministers gave the green light on November 3, 2020 to the rescue of the airline of the Globalia Group, owned by the Hidalgo familywith an injection of 475 million euros. The aid was articulated through a participatory loan (with a variable interest subject to the company's profits) of 240 million euros, awarded November 11, 2020; and another ordinary of 235 million eurosof which 100 million euros were delivered on March 25, 2021 and 135 million on May 7, 2021. This fragmentation of the aid is what allowed Spain to avoid the control of the aid by the European authorities.

As established in the fund's operating order, the competent body to resolve the requests was the Fasee managing council, with authorization from the Council of Ministers being necessary for the approval of the operations. Furthermore, he added that those whose amount was greater than 250 million euros per beneficiaryor included as temporary public support measures hybrid capital instruments with maturities of more than seven years, would be subject to individualized notification to the European Commission under the provisions of the time frame.


However, the fact that the participatory loan, which is the one that should have been notified to Brussels if it exceeded 250 million euros, was not higher than that amount avoided community oversight. In other rescues, such as that of the Catalan steel company CelsaYes, such a procedure was necessary. As the SEPI explained when it was granted, “given that the amount of the participatory loan is greater than 250 million euros, authorization by the European Commission was necessary before its submission to the Council of Ministers.”

Aid to Air Europa is in the eye of the hurricane given that Victor de Aldama, one of those detained for his membership in the alleged plot to bribe contracts for anticovid material during the coronavirus, acted as an advisor to the airline while the rescue was being negotiated. In fact, this week, the investigation suggests that the mask plot would have been conceived in the heat of the relationships that Aldama was able to establish with some of the positions that were then in the Ministry of Transportation during the negotiation of the rescue of the Hidalgo family airline.

Investigations indicate that the mask plot was conceived during the rescue negotiation

According to a report from the National Fraud Inspection Office (ONIF)it was in the relations between Aldama and the ministry to negotiate the rescue where “the offer of masks was forged” to the department headed by the minister José Luis Ábalos. The set of negotiations between Air Europa and the Ministry, “His closeness to certain officials (of whom one person has signed up) and above all, the coincidence in time (March 2020) led to the offer of the masks, their transportation and their price and their acceptance by the Ministry”according to what Aldama declared to the Tax Agency.

As the airline has acknowledged, Aldama was an advisor to Air Europa between the end of 2018 – although they did not make the relationship official until September 2019 – and September 2020 and received around 10,000 euros per month for his intermediation services.. The last months of Aldama's relationship with the Globalia Group company coincided with those of the negotiation of a rescue in which the advisor put a lot of interest. Ábalos himself has publicly recognized it. The former Minister of Transport has assured that, during his time in that position, he regularly dispatched with Aldama because he worked for Air Europa. Ábalos has admitted that Aldama, who, according to a ruling from the National Court, had a “special pass” in the Ministry of Transport, asked him about rescuing the company.

“Koldo Case”: Ábalos, Koldo and Aldama, the together images of their first meeting in MexicoSocial networkSocial network

Ábalos also showed special interest in the rescue of Air Europa going ahead. The minister, as sources from the Ministry of Transport admitted to the media in August 2020, became at the forefront of the negotiation since then and made decisions such as classifying the company as strategic, one of the necessary requirements to access the fund's money. Ábalos defends and defended that Air Europa is a “flagship” company of Spanish ownership and of vital character to guarantee the connectivity of Spain.

Despite the usual relations that Aldama and Ábalos maintained during the rescue negotiation, Globalia has assured that The rescue met all the legal and administrative requirements imposed by the SEPI and that it was not the result of his mediation. “We were a company in the tourism sector that had its planes stopped, so we were totally susceptible to receiving that loan,” according to what the Hidalgo family holding company said when asked about the matter.

Moncloa has also assured that all decisions made by the Government regarding the company were made respecting legal and administrative procedures.

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The rescue is not the only matter that Ábalos and Aldama dealt with. The former minister also dealt with the alleged “commission agent”, since before the pandemic, the purchase agreement for Air Europa by Iberia, which has not yet been carried out.

However, the holding company that owns the Spanish airline, IAG, does not believe that what happened will affect the operation, as stated by its president, the Spanish Luis Gallego. Right now, the operation is being analyzed in depth by the Competition authorities of the European Commission.

Air Europa also used the services of Víctor de Aldama to try to recover – without success – 180 million euros that the Venezuelan authorities had blocked due to hyperinflationaccording to Central Operational Unit of the Civil Guard (UCO). A job for which he was going to charge almost 5 million euros.