ROME, Oct 14 (ANSA) – After a prolonged crisis that lasted for several years, Alitalia, Italy’s largest civil airline, made this Thursday (14) the last flight in its 75-year history and is giving way to a new government-controlled company. .
The last flight will depart from Cagliari, Sardinia, at 10:05 pm (local time) and land at Fiumicino Airport, on the outskirts of Rome, around 11:10 pm.
From the next day, Alitalia’s place will be – at least partially – occupied by Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), but the process of passing the baton between the two companies remains shrouded in doubt.
ITA’s inaugural flight is scheduled for 6:20 a.m. Friday (15), between Milan-Linet and Bari, but the new company will start operating at a much smaller size and amid auctioning of the Alitalia brand.
Under full government control, the International Trade Agreement was born only after an agreement between Italy and the EU executive in order for there to be a “complete economic disruption” with respect to Alitalia.
That is, the ITA will practically start from scratch and will need to acquire the assets and services of its predecessor, including the brand, through public bidding and auctions. On the other hand, the new company will not inherit the debts of Alitalia which will pay off the sale of its assets.
However, the two companies will retain some links, such as the “AZ” symbol, which has always identified Alitalia flights.
Brand and staff
The auction notice for the brand was published on September 17, and government-appointed intermediaries to run the traditional airline asked for at least €290 million.
However, ITA would have offered only 90 million euros, according to the business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, while the European Commission estimates the value of the brand at 110 million euros.
Another pitfall is related to the employment contract of ITA employees. The unions ask for a collective contract, but the new company wants to enforce the bonds unilaterally. Italia Trasporto Aereo will start its course with 2,800 employees, while Alitalia has 10,500 employees.
“Today is not a funeral day, but the beginning of resistance. We will not give up, and ITA cannot be the future of air transport in Italy. 8,000 people do not know what their future will be, and the government has abandoned it and for the sake of politics,” said Francesco Stacioli, the leader of the flight attendants’ union, during a demonstration in Fiumicino.
In one airport lounge, workers posted signs saying “resistance” and “shame”, and passengers on site applauded.
The new company will have a fleet of 52 aircraft, which will be increased to 78 in 2022 and 105 by the end of 2025, and will use Fiumicino and Linate airports as a hub. The routes will initially cover 45 destinations (up to 74 by 2025), including New York, Miami, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Crisis – Officially owned by the holding company Compagnia Aerea Italiana (51%) and Etihad Airways (49%), Alitalia has been under government intervention since May 2017 due to a liquidity crisis that has brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.
The company survived this period thanks to public loans totaling 1.3 billion euros – all made between 2017 and the end of 2019 – and the European Union has already decided that the transfer of at least 900 million of this amount was illegal and would have to be returned.
The bloc has strict rules on government aid to private companies, which made the Italian government choose the strategy of establishing a new airline rather than simply re-nationalizing Alitalia. (Ansa).
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