In this work we analyse the European airline market after deregulation with a twofold objective. First we assess the consequences of the process undertaken at the European Union level. Secondly, we investigate the comparative influence of deregulation, as opposed to other contemporary processes, on the crisis of the Italian national airline company (Alitalia). A benchmarking analysis on airline companies, both national ones and others, establishes Alitalia position in the European competitive framework. With a focus on the negative dynamics that have characterised the Italian national airline company, the benchmarking analysis aims also to ascertain whether they are caused by the European common market or by Italy's country-specific features.