The recent change of government in Italy has now cast a further shadow over the future of the insolvent national carrier, Alitalia. It seems that nobody knows what the future will bring after takeover discussions with other carriers have failed.
900 million euros credit in twelve months
It’s a never-ending story with Alitalia, which was once a proud Italian national carrier which in the meantime has been reduced to a shambles.
Alitalia has officially been insolvent for almost 70 weeks but is still merrily (or rather not) flying on. This thanks to massive government cash injections whilst negotia-tions with possible take-over candidates were in progress. These, including Lufthansa’s interest in AZ, have more or less fallen apart. During the past twelve to fourteen months, the Italian government has given Alitalia credit to the amount of €900 million so that the carrier could stay in the air.
This move had not gone unnoticed by the airline industry who on the whole had become more-or-less immune to the Alitalia plight. However, three carriers became more vocal and issued official complaints to the EU Commission on what they see as unfair financial propping up of Alitalia.
These were the IAG Group under British Airways, Ryanair and Adria Airways, who made their case known already last year. Nothing has changed and the last official financial injection of €300 million took place in January of this year.
The new right-wing government gets stubborn
The new Italian government which is making very nationalistic demands to the rest of Europe, now has the Alitalia plight on their plates and are claiming that the only way out is to have a national solution.
But, in which form?
The new Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, has proclaimed that if no own Italian remedy is found, then he will ensure that the state will spring to the rescue as he will not tolerate what he calls the national carrier being sold off in small pieces. An interesting statement considering that such a move would be against EU regula-tions.
On the other hand, an understandable standpoint as nobody wants to see their national carrier ‘fed to the sharks.’ The future of Alitalia, according to Mr Salvini, rests on the introduction of a new national traffic plan. There is no elaboration on what this should look like - only the statement that if it fails, the state steps in.
The three offers from Lufthansa, Easy Jet and Wizz Air are it seems a thing of the past and it is anyway hard to imagine that those three would have further interest considering the new governments political leaning and the chance that Italy may be the next exit candidate in Europe.
The misery and uncertainty for Alitalia’s 11,000 employees will continue and the showdown between Mr Salvini and the EU Commission is only a matter of time.
John Mc Donagh