After discussions with state-owned railroad company Ferrovie dello Stato and Delta Air Lines regarding the potential formation of a consortium to take over Alitalia, easyJet withdrew from negotiations.
The British LCC said it would remain committed to the Italian market where it “currently carries 18.5 million passengers every year and employs 1400 pilots and crew”. It did not provide any reason for this sudden move.
Negotiations between Delta Air Lines, Ferrovie Dello Stato and EasyJet started on February 13, 2019, with the idea of creating a consortium in which the Italian Ministry of Economy would take a stake. Reviving the Italian flag carrier was one of the electoral promises of the current government.
Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) had previously showed interest for taking over Alitalia. But in October 2018, the prospect of the Italian state being involved led the German airline to withdraw its proposition.
Alitalia has been under special governmental administration since May 2017, after employees rejected a restructuring plan from its main shareholder, Etihad (49%), which would have seen 1.700 jobs being axed.
The Gulf airline, known for its risky foreign investments, had then decided to divest from the Italian company.
Delta said on February 18, 2019, that it was still in talks with Ferrovie to define a rescue plan before the fixed deadline at the end of March 2019. The airline has until June 2019 to find a solution to pay back the €900 million loan granted by the Italian government last year.