MIAMI – With the establishment of a new government headed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, former Central European Bank (BCE) President, a new course has been set for Alitalia’s (AZ) future.
According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, a source usually well informed on this subject, the Italian PM is setting a different course on what might be a final settlement of AZ’s ongoing critical situation.
A New Restart for the Airline
The new government is now more intent on the discontinuance between the current and the future Italian flag carrier, taking sides with the EU requests that include an open public tender for the sale of AZ assets and the hand-over of slots at Milano-Linate Airport (LIN), 70% of which are detained by AZ.
Mario Draghi’s new course consists of taking care of one problem at a time. So next week, he will sit down with the EU Commission and answer all questions on the matter posed by Margrethe Verstager, a powerful EU Commissioner for Competition Policy.
Once this first step is taken, Mario Draghi is to continue with an alliance for the future flag carrier, and here comes the real new course: the new PM is keen to seeing through a common project with Germany, opening a new door for Lufthansa (LH) to step in.
As such, LH might become involved with a strong commercial partnership, which would open the doors for AZ to enter the Star Alliance. This would also mean quitting its Delta (DL)-Air France (AF) Skyteam alliance.
No more Dependency on the State
Part of the new course set by the incoming government consists of abandoning the past rescue schemes, which never solved much, and which entered a cycle of repeating loans, some of which are yet to be repaid. Moreover, Draghi thinks the decisions on AZ’s future should not be linked to a general consensus, as was the case in the past.
This new attitude means going through harsh deals with the numerous unions that represent the AZ workforce as the idea is to not sell the carrier as a whole but instead in pieces, which is the new course adopted by the government.
Thus, the new company would be initially managed by ITA- Italia Trasporto Aereo, which belongs to the Italian Ministry of Finance, but with possible future amendments.
The government also now plans to keep the ” flight ops” part, which would be handed over to ITA once it enters into partnership with LH. Handling and Maintenance would undergo a restructuring process before being sold through an open tender.
The pending tender and sale of AZ’s Handling and Maintenance would be on loan to the new Alitalia.
A Smaller Alitalia
The consequence of this new course is the under-sizing of the carrier, which will have a fleet of 50-60 aircraft, four times less than the 239 aircraft owned by AZ in 2009.
The new AZ shall be smaller than Swiss (LX) or Austrian (OS), both parts of the LH Group, and plans are for a halved workforce of 5000.
Featured image: Alitalia EI-DBK Boeing 777-243(ER). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways