The European Union is opening an investigation to see if Italy was within its rights to give struggling airline Alitalia a $1.1 billion bridge loan last year.

Alitalia was placed under bankruptcy protection last May and received 900 million euros in loans from the authorities to keep operating until a sale could be completed.

The EU Commission said in a statement Monday that its "current view is that the state loan may constitute state aid," and will further examine whether it is illegal.