Alitalia airline: Of back doors and scoundrels?

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Luigi Di Maio, meeting the unions at Mise, (Ministry of Economic Development) outlined the account of the new company, AZ, and declared, “So, after more than 10 years under the guidance of private individuals, Alitalia will return public.”

The last year of Alitalia being public was in 2008 when the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called a group of individuals to block the merger of Alitalia with Air France-Klm.

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The Minister of Economy and Finance (MEF), Giovanni Tria, answering a question at the “Question time” in the Chamber of Deputies on February 20 recalled, “There is no question of renationalizing Alitalia: the solution for AZ can only be on the market, driven by subjects that have a prominent position in the civil aviation market.

“This situation is reflected in the interest of several private airlines to acquire a share in the capital of the new company to be formed, which will have to take over the activities of Alitalia. The negotiations currently underway with Delta and EasyJet show the possibility of a new shareholding structure together with the Ferrovie Dello Stato (The Italian State Railways- FS).”

“When we talk about market operations, in fact,” underlines Di Maio, “we are talking about private partners, but the presence of the MEF and FS guarantees the safeguarding of employment levels and avoids dismissal. And it is to guarantee a strategy to Alitalia and not to sell it”

Coming to the “possible participation of the State in the capital of the new company,” Tria recalled that the State has provided Alitalia with extraordinary administration of 900 million euro to allow the company to continue operating in the period necessary to find a buyer.

“If this negotiation ends positively and produces a robust business plan in full compliance with Italian law as well as the European legislation on state aid and competition, and an industrial plan that evidently allows it to stay on the market without state aid, the MEF can consider a participation in the capital of the new company,” concluded Minister Tria.

Over the whole game, the EU light remains on, which already has an ongoing survey on the 900 million bridge loan granted in May 2017 and to be returned by June 30, 2019.

In recent days, the Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said that if other companies decide to merge with Alitalia, the investigation could double in two. Even the entry of the state into the capital is subject to EU stakes: public interventions must be at “market conditions,” but Commissioner Enrico Laghi reassures, “The EU commission is not a theme.”

Meanwhile, the first indications illustrated by Di Maio to the unions ignite the debate. If the League applauds the project, the former Minister of Economy, Padoan, considers the entry of the MEF in the capital “very questionable from the point of view of the industrial economy,” while the former owner of Mise, Minister Calenda, speaks of “fake nationalization, an incredible match and predicts ‘a disaster.’”

“The outcome,” concluded Del Rio, “is what all economic indicators point out: a country blocked and in recession. On the Alitalia issue then, we must add that Di Maio’s obstinacy to involve FS will force this to divert resources from its main mission to the company that will take the reins of FS with obvious damage to users and commuters in particular.”

An opinion on Alitalia asked of the Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, among the BIT stands in Milan, was, “Mayor, could you give us your opinion on Alitalia?”

“I have to say frankly that Alitalia is a problem,” he responded, “because when a Rome Palermo flight costs 500 euros, the low-cost adapts to its prices. Paradoxically, the economic crisis of Alitalia is a huge problem that also causes the adaptation of low cost to its tariffs. While in the sections not covered by AZ, the LCs maintain competitive prices.

“An example? I traveled from Palermo to Marseilles (France) on a few euros: that route is not covered by AZ. While in the sectors not covered by AZ, the LCs maintain competitive prices. Another example? I traveled from Palermo to Marseilles (France) on a few euros: that route is not also covered by AZ. The AZ crisis produces damage not only to the image of Italy but also to tourism in our cities, because it helps to increase the prices that push us out of business due to its crisis.

“Defending a former flag carrier in a globalized world has a limit to ask if there are advantages or disadvantages to defend an airline company that is the example of the massacre, of the waste, the scandal of scoundrels, administrators who lived on parasitical income and now they continue to make our cities pay.

“The flag cannot be an alibi for scoundrels.”