A top EU court on Wednesday annulled again the approval of a pandemic state aid programme for Dutch airline KLM, giving Irish rival Ryanair another victory.

The General Court ruled that the European Commission "erred" in approving the Dutch government's financial aid for the Netherlands' flag-carrier KLM, which forms an alliance with Air France.

The group received 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) from the Dutch state after the coronavirus pandemic grounded the aviation sector in 2020.

The court said the commission "erred in defining the beneficiaries" by excluding the group's holding company and Air France as recipients of that aid.

The commission, the EU's powerful antitrust regulator, approved the aid in 2020, but the Luxembourg-based General Court annulled the decision the following year.

The commission then approved the aid again in 2021, which Ryanair challenged.

Ryanair launched multiple challenges against government bailouts for other companies, including German airline Lufthansa and Scandinavia's SAS during the pandemic.

The Irish airline estimated in 2021 that the total state aid to airlines approved by Brussels since the beginning of the pandemic was 30 billion euros ($32 billion).

The EU court in December last year issued a similar decision, ruling that the commission "erred" in approving the French government's financial aid for Air France-KLM.