The European Commission has approved a $943.3m (€800m) Italian scheme to compensate airports and ground-handling operators hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme was approved under the EU State aid Temporary Framework and the funding will be allocated in the form of direct grants.

These grants will be open to all airports and ground-handling operators holding a valid operating certificate from the Italian civil aviation authority.

According to the European Commission, this scheme aims to compensate the airports and ground-handling operators for the damage caused from 1 March to 14 July last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as the travel restrictions implemented by Italy and other countries to limit the spread of the virus.

European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager said: “Airports are among the companies that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

“This €800 million scheme will enable Italy to compensate them for the damage suffered as a direct result of the travel restrictions that Italy and other countries had to implement to limit the spread of the virus.

“We continue working in close cooperation with member states to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules.”

The Commission also approved a $619.4m (€525.3m) German aid package for airline Condor in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Condor, a German charter airline based in Frankfurt, provides air transportation services to clients and tour operators from its hubs in Germany.

A total of $240.6m (€204.1m) from the package will be allotted to compensate Condor for the damages caused due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The remaining $378.75m (€321.2m) will be allocated to support Condor’s return to viability.

Recently, the European Commission set a 50% slot usage threshold for airlines for the upcoming Winter 2021 season.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called the decision ‘out of touch with reality’ while Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) has welcomed it.