News: Alitalia inches closer to relaunch in Italy

The Italian government has signed paperwork creating a new aviation company, beginning the restructuring of much-troubled Alitalia.

The move comes as part of wider €3 billion recapitalisation of the company in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The re-founding represents the first step towards creating a high-quality transport company that is competitive on the international market,” the Italian finance ministry said in a statement.

This was the “cornerstone for the revitalisation of Italian air traffic,” the statement added.

Italian flag-carrier Alitalia last turned a profit in 2002, and has been under state-controlled administration since early 2017.

Key managers for the new airline were also named earlier, including president Francesco Caio.

They are to draw up a new industrial plan within 30 days which must be approved by the European Commission, which polices state aid in the European Union.

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Italian minister of transport, Paola De Micheli, commented: “The new national airline is born today in clear discontinuity with the past and which will have to play a leading role on the international market.

“This is a large industrial operation at the service of the country in support of the competitiveness of our companies and for the relaunch of Italian tourism.”

The new airline is yet unnamed, but reports have suggested ‘ITAliana’ as a possibility.

De Micheli added the industrial plan would have a five-year outlook and aim to avoid any substantial downsizing, with no job cuts.

The new airline is expected to have a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

The government has said Alitalia may be privatised again in the future, after its hoped-for recovery under public ownership.

However, widespread scepticism remains about turnaround chances for the ailing Alitalia, after a track record of losses and numerous failed efforts to revive it through multiple state bailouts.

Anna Maria Bernini, president of the Forza Italia caucus in the Italian senate opined: “I would like to share the optimism of minister De Micheli, who after signing the Alitalia decree rejoiced, because the national airline remains Italian, speaking of an industrial operation at the service of the country.

“After the billions burned in recent years, reality unfortunately tells us another story: with the current dimension, ITA, without a solid international partnership, will unfortunately only be destined to grind more money from the Italians.”

Image: LaPresse/SIPA USA/PA Images

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