MIAMI – Ryanair (FR) CEO Michael O’Leary is again fighting for Alitalia’s (AZ) slots at Milano-Linate (LIN) and Rome-Fiumicino (FCO) airports. The CEO is asking the European Commission (EC) to force the Italian Government to sell said slots via open bids or re-allocate them in accordance with current aviation practices.
Ryanair took similar actions in January 2021, putting forward the same requests to the EC, not hiding its interest in the profitable slots at both airports. The matter is still unclear, just as is the future of the new AZ, which will fly either under the old brand – very unrealistic – or as the newco ITA.
O’Leary claims that either way, the slots have to be freed since discontinuity between new and old AZ is a must for the EU Commissioner on Competition, Margrethe Verstager. That is, a direct transmission of said slots should not be allowed for ITA; they should be obtained by having ITA participate in a competitive tender at commercial prices instead.
European Commission Still on the Fence
According to Reuters, on MAy 28, the FR CEO addressed a letter to Verstager, asking her to issue an order for a “market-based disposal” of AZ slots at LIN and FCO.
The situation concerning AZ/ITA is still in a sort of “decisional limbo” according to an undisclosed party familiar with the matter. The position by the EU Commission has not changed, in lieu of the Italian Government still thinking about a possible direct transition between the old and new airlines.
Ryanair is in the opinion that ITA, benefitting from traffic incentives given to a “new entrant,” should not be allowed to take advantage of a direct handover from AZ.
There have been no further comments from either the Italian Government and FR.
Featured image: Ryanair Boeing 737-800 EI-DPN. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways