Italian government expects coronavirus to save Alitalia

Davide Calabresi

The Italian government will take control of Alitalia from June 2020. It expects the coronavirus crisis currently affecting the air transport industry to work in favor of the ailing carrier. 

In a hearing with the Transport Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said that Alitalia’s turnover has plunged 87.5% in 2020. Nevertheless, the minister expects a bright future for the airline, thanks to the crisis that the air industry is currently going through. “If before, Alitalia was like a crystal vase in the middle of steel vases, today this is no longer the case,” Patuanelli argued, adding “the new company will kick off in the same position as other airlines once the market recovers.” 

The minister denied reports that the fleet could be reduced to 30 aircraft. Instead, Alitalia should conserve more than 90 of its current fleet of 113 aircraft. A new public company would be created.

A new beginning?

Since May 2017, the carrier has been under “extraordinary administration” after employees rejected a restructuring plan from its main shareholder, Etihad (49%), which would have seen 1.700 jobs being axed. Despite two grants in the form of loans, for a total amount of €1.3 billion euros, the company still posted a loss of €300 million euros in 2019.

The nationalization of the carrier, which currently employs 11,000 people, put an end to three years of unfruitful sale attempts and negotiations. Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , Delta Air Lines, EasyJet, and Delta Air Lines, and the state-owned railroad company Ferrovie Dello Stato have all temporarily shown interest for the airline before dropping out.

Claiming that the potential of finding a buyer in the context of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic was almost null, the Italian government decided to re-nationalize Alitalia.

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