During the pandemic, severely ill COVID-19 patients were not the only ones to be kept alive by dramatic medical interventions. The flag carriers were too. For years, many of them have found it difficult to compete with low-cost carriers of the like of Ryan Air and EasyJet, with Alitalia on the verge of bankruptcy since 2002. With the worst global pandemic of the century raging for more than 18 months already, large traditional airlines faced severe economic difficulties that they were only able to survive thanks to generous aid from their respective countries. Germany alone paid state aid to its carrier Lufthansa to the tune of 9 billion euros, Italy pressed ahead with plans to outright nationalise Alitalia, and, in a contended move, France granted nearly 5 billion euros to keep Air France flying.