Alitalia airline: The die is almost cast

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The last of thousands of Italian press reports regarding the endless saga of Alitalia indicates that it could land comfortably in the efficient administration of the Italian State Railways Company (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane S.p.A. – FS).

A plausible hypothesis, it is said, studied by the Italian government to shorten the time for the sale of Alitalia scheduled for October 31, 2018, the last date to present binding offers and to satisfy the EU commission checks on the bridging loan received from Italian taxpayers (900 million euros), is due back on next December 15. After this urgent operation, the government would form a consortium with the Ministry of Economy (probably at 15%) and an industrial partner.

The EU Commission is very close to the case of Alitalia and has not yet sprung up in the news in line with the directives on state aids.

“It will be necessary to understand how to avoid the EU axle on state aid, given that the bridge loan of 900 million to Alitalia is already under Brussels’ control and that foreign competitors [are] ready to shoot on the operation,” said Minister Conte in his previous speech on the Alitalia case, adding that his executive team “is working to verify the feasibility of the project.”

Fs towards the acquisition of 100% of Alitalia?

 The comparison between the Alitalia extraordinary commissioners, Luigi Gubitosi, Enrico Laghi, and Stefano Paleari, and the management of Fs will continue from Monday, October 22, for the whole week with the support of the bankers of Rothschild and Mediobanca.

One of the issues to be settled concerns the evaluation of the entire airline. It is not clear, in fact, if Fs will have to officially establish a price for the purchase in the offer phase and if this must be respected.

Another fundamental aspect then remains how to proceed to create the consortium that in a second phase will take over the capital of Alitalia and that should involve Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (or another company linked to Mef) and the industrial partner.

In the last statement of G.F. Battisti AD (Fs) released on September 27, 2018, the headline read, “Many synergies but no proposal.” On the possible entry of Fs into Alitalia, Battisti said, “We look at all the opportunities that the market offers us. When a plan will be proposed we will evaluate it; to date, there has been no proposal.”

Opinions opposed to the nationalization of Alitalia

On the possible nationalization of Alitalia, the first official disagreements began to emerge, starting from the top of Assolombarda, the Confindustria association that groups the companies operating in the economic provinces of North Italy, Milan.

“Alitalia is not a social shock absorber,” said President Carlo Bonomi at the assembly of the association held in Milan. “We ask that the Italians can express themselves in a referendum to say whether they want to pay out of their own pockets for Alitalia’s survival,” and reiterated the Assolombarda’s “NO” to a “state that believes it can manage air transport again.”

In support of his thesis, Bonomi recalled how in the last 20 years in the black hole of the former flag carrier (between state aids, fake privatizations, market losses, and a layoff for thousands of employees), it went up in smoke over 8 billion euros. More or less, “6 times the amount of what venture capital gives to start-ups in a year and all this for a carrier that keeps losing 1.2 million euros a day.”

The president of ENAC, the body that supervises civil flights in Italian skies, fires against the idea of nationalizing Alitalia in crisis. Vito Riggio says that nationalizing the former national airline “is absolutely improper; I’ve always said it is out of a market logic.”

The irresponsible expenses

In another article, highlights the cost of the rentals of 77 (out of 118) aircraft that make up the fleet of Alitalia for which the carrier pays 28 million dollars a month. This is a cost, say the experts, that is too high, and based on the heritage of the agreements signed prior to the commission management, not to mention the fact that within the next 5 years, Alitalia should spend another $1.8 billion of leases.

Meanwhile, the minister of labor and other politicians of the current government support the return of Alitalia as a flag carrier (at the expense of taxpayers) attributing to Alitalia the thaumaturgical power to improve tourist flows from the countries on which it flies to Italy.

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