Italy Sets Final Six-Month Deadline for Alitalia Rescue

Dec. 23, 2019
The Italian government will try to revive its stricken airline Alitalia for another six months but will liquidate the company if the state intervention fails.

Rome (dpa) - The Italian government will try to revive its stricken airline Alitalia for another six months but will liquidate the company if the state intervention fails, Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said in a Saturday interview.

Alitalia has not turned a profit since 2002 and required multiple state bailouts over the years. The airline has been under government administration since May 2017 amid unsuccessful efforts to find private buyers.

"It is clear that the aim is to close [a rescue deal] by the first half of the year," Patuanelli told Il Messaggero daily. "Otherwise we close. There will be no more funds. For Alitalia this is really the last state intervention."

Alitalia was recently given a six-month government loan of 400 million euros (440 million dollars). That came on top of 900 million euros in aid granted in 2017 that the airline largely used up.

The June 2020 deadline coincides with the end of the mandate of Alitalia special administrator Giuseppe Leogrande, who was tasked with further restructuring Alitalia to make it more attractive to investors.

"Alitalia loses about 2 million [euros] a day," Patuanelli said. "There is no interest for the company as it is now."

The minister said the Alitalia group would not be sold off in separate sales of its commercial flights, maintenance and ground handling divisions.

The minister also promised "legislative action" against low cost carriers, claiming that they benefit from unfair subsidies in Italy, and indicated that Lufthansa or Delta-Air France could be Alitalia's future partners.

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Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS