By: V4 Agency
Alitalia became insolvent in February due to its financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The establishment of a new airline which could save some of the workplaces is already under way. However, this could take months because of the constant delays, putting some 11 thousand workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Alitalia was already struggling with serious problems during the first wave of the pandemic, because of mismanagement issues.
The ailing company lost most of its revenue do to the crisis, but continued to operate its flights in a bid to retain its slots at busy airports, which also imposed a heavy financial burden on the company.
In order to prevent massive layoffs and maintain Italian air traffic, the Italian government announced last October that it decided to stop subsidising Alitalia and create a new state-owned airline called Italia Transporto Aereo (ITA). The process is being fast-tracked by Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The company’s total assets are worth 20 million euros and it has a budget of 3 billion euros, provided in full by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
The new state-owned company has drawn up a five-year plan. According to the statements, ITA hopes to start operations with the 52 aircraft now owned by ALITALIA as early as the summer of 2021. Alitalia had just over 100 aircraft at the start of the pandemic, a level that could be reached by 2025 at the earliest, even with large amounts of state aid, according to a report sent to the European Commission by ITA.
According to the report, ITA would operate flights to 60 destinations in 2021, including both domestic and international routes.
ITA is planning to take over between 5200 and 5500 employees, roughly half of Alitalia’s 11,000 strong workforce. The report, however, notes that many issues remain unresolved with the trade unions that are intent on finding jobs for everyone before the company’s liquidation.
The new airline will remain headquartered at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, but a large number of flights would depart from Milan, according to plans.
Fabio Lazzerini, ITA’s recently appointed chief executive, served as Alitalia’s chief business officer from September 2017 to November 2020, when he regisned and joined ITA. Francesco Caio, the former chairman of Saipem oil and gas company, also sits on ITA’s board.
If the new carrier wants to be successful, it needs to partner with other operators now, during the coronavirus crisis, Fabio Lazzerini stressed.
The plans for the new airline need approval by the Italian government and the European Commission, which is expected in days.
The European Commission underlined that it is extremely important that Alitalia – currently in extraordinary administration – should launch a transparent tender to sell its assets, including the sale of its slots at popular airports.
The Commission also noted that the economic discontinuation of the old airline is analysed “using a set of criteria, including the scope of assets transferred, the transfer price, the identity of the buyer, the timing of the transfer and the economic logic behind the transaction”.