Updated: Mar 23
During these difficult times, Alitalia, an airline that was already struggling before the COVID-19 outbreak, is facing a possible rebirth. The call for tenders for Alitalia, that closed on March 18, did not go bad as many had feared. According to initial rumours, there were proposals from Almaviva, Synergy and US Aerospace for the flight operations part of the business. Three handlers have submitted their offers for the baggage side of operations, and two companies were interested in the maintenance part of the business - one of which, Atitech, aims to create a large Italian aircraft maintenance pole.
Despite years of privitisation attempts, the nationalization of the company has now been decided. Alitalia, which has survived for years only thanks to state loans and is now managed by a Commissioner (Giuseppe Leogrande) appointed by the government, will be nationalized and returned to the complete control of the Ministry of the Economy. This is provided for in an article of the so-called "Cura-Italia" decree-law, which contains the new rules approved by the government to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences (although it is not a decision directly linked to the pandemic). In the decree, it is not mentioned how many resources will be used for the operation, but it seems that the intervention will use most of the EUR500 million that the decree allocates as generic "measures to compensate for the damage suffered" by the Italian air transport sector.
The decree states that "given the situation determined concerning Alitalia's activities", authorisation is granted for the establishment of a new company wholly owned by the Ministry of the Economy or by a company with a majority public shareholding. "It was time to nationalize Alitalia now more than ever," said Paola De Micheli, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, today.
Pilot union, the Associazione Nazionale Piloti (ANP) welcomes this choice and calls on the government to do so soon. "The government has done well to foresee a possible nationalization of Alitalia, which needs a commercial agreement with the big airlines to increase revenues and eliminate waste," said the President of the ANP, Marco Veneziani.
There is no more time to lose and Commissioner Leogrande and the Government have to quickly close the matter and get the new company going as soon as possible to avoid further losses and continued uncertainty over Italy's national carrier.