Pressure mounts on Italy to save ailing Alitalia

Alitalia, which employs more than 11,000 people, has struggled to compete with low-cost European rivals and was placed in administration in 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Pressure mounts on Italy to save ailing Alitalia

  • Unions warned this weekend that the national carrier risked being ‘euthanized’
  • Alitalia, which employs more than 11,000 people, has struggled to compete with low-cost European rivals

ROME: Concern was mounting in Italy on Monday over the fate of the troubled national airline Alitalia, with just 15 days until the deadline for the state railway company to submit a concrete takeover offer.
Unions warned this weekend that the carrier risked being “euthanized,” spooking Italy’s populist coalition government, which can ill afford a fresh Alitalia disaster as it campaigns for May’s European elections.
Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) submitted an offer to buy Alitalia at the end of October, but does not want to hold any more than 30 percent in the airline.
FS had been discussing a potential partnership with both Atlanta-based Delta and EasyJet, Britain’s biggest low-cost airline, but the latter said last month that it was pulling out of the negotiations.
In addition to FS’s 30 percent, Delta is interested in taking 15 percent, and the Italian Treasury another 15 percent, according to Italian media reports.
In that case, one or more partners would still need to be found for the remaining 40 percent. The binding offer must be submitted by April 30.
According to media reports, Delta is in contact with the Chinese company China Eastern, and has also approached Italian infrastructure group Atlantia.
However, any deal with Atlantia would be toxic for the government, which has repeatedly lambasted the company.
Atlantia’s majority-owned subsidiary Autostrade came under fire last summer after a large bridge in Genoa collapsed, killing more than 40 people.
Should the FS bid fail, German airline Lufthansa has expressed interest in Alitalia, but has ruled out any deal that involved the Italian state and would likely cut thousands of jobs.
Three unions for Alitalia pilot and cabin crews — ANPAC, ANPAV and ANP — warned in a statement Saturday that the situation risked deteriorating further with a June 30 deadline for the repayment of a €900 million ($1 billion) state loan.
The unions said they would not sit back and watch the “state euthanasia, and are ready to mobilize and open direct talks with possible industrial and financial partners who would guarantee a credible launch of the new Alitalia.”
The airline, which employs more than 11,000 people, has struggled to compete with low-cost European rivals and was placed in administration in 2017.


Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

Updated 19 June 2019
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Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

  • British Airways owner IAG signs letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets
  • Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes

PARIS: Airbus, reeling from the potential loss of a major customer for its best-selling A320neo as British Airways owner IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX, prepared to hit back with more orders for its A321XLR on Wednesday.
The planemaker has been negotiating with US airlines investor Bill Franke whose Indigo Partners has also been known to place orders for multiple airlines within its portfolio and could reel it in for the Paris Air Show, industry sources said.
Airbus declined to comment.
After weathering intense scrutiny over safety and its public image, Boeing won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as IAG signed a letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.
The surprise order lifted the energy of a previously subdued Paris Airshow, where the talk had been of the possible end of the aerospace cycle, given the issues at both Boeing and Airbus as well as geopolitical and trade tensions around the world.
Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it would order 10 Airbus new A321XLR jets and convert a further 26 from existing orders already on the Airbus books.
Airbus is also in talks with leasing company GECAS and has been trying to secure an eye-catching order for the A321XLR from American Airlines, though the world’s largest carrier does not typically make announcements at air shows.
Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes.