Alitalia - Is This The End?

Italian flag carrier Alitalia is on the verge of bankruptcy and as most of the companies that initially wanted to save the airline pull out, Alitalia could be approaching its final few months of operations.

Photo by AeroNewsX/Karam Sodhi.

Alitalia-Aerolinee Internazionali Italiane, was founded in Rome in 1946, commencing operations in 1947. It remained a public company for almost 60 years when, after a series of attempts to do so, the national carrier was privatized in 2009 which saw the assets and the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) being acquired by an Italian financial holding company called Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI). The company was composed of KLM-Air France and a consortium of Italian businessmen, starting a period of special administration.

The Troubles

In 2014, Poste Italiane bought 15% of the company stock and in 2015, in order to allow Etihad Airways to become a shareholder of the airline, a new company was founded, called Alitalia-Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A. (SAI), to which Alitalia-CAI sold its assets and AOC. So the new shareholders of the company were Etihad Airways with 49% and Alitalia SAI with 51%. At this time Alitalia-SAI, had millions of euros worth of debts, losing almost 500.000 euros a day.

In 2017, Alitalia-SAI began a period of special administration as Etihad withdrew its investment in the struggling carrier. At the beginning of 2019, the financial situation of the company was still in real danger. Three new players entered into negotiations regarding the takeover including the American carrier Delta, the British airline EasyJet and the Italian Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS). Moreover the Italian government was given the possibility to enter into negotiations, considering the sustainability of the financial plan.

The Latest

Today, the situation of Alitalia has stalled. New opportunities were proposed, but apparently no one is going to take the final step to fully acquire the airline. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, who was the leader of the consortium, is going to raise the white flag. Atlantia S.p.A. (former Autostrade S.p.A.) who is one of the world leaders in airport and motorway infrastructure, is also not going for it.

Photo by AeroNewsX/Karam Sodhi.

Lufthansa doesn’t want to buy the airline, but now wants just a commercial partnership. Finally, Delta doesn't want to go over a 10% stake in the Italian flag carrier.

As a result, it is said that there might be yet another extension of the deadline for bids for Alitalia (which would become the 8th extension so far), totaling about 20 days more. Pressure is high, to complete negotiations by March 2020, as if a solution has not been secured by then, it could lead to the liquidation of Alitalia.

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