With the establishment of a new company, the government in Rome lays the foundation for the state-controlled restructuring of the Italian airline Alitalia, which has been insolvent since 2017.
According to media reports, the company’s financial position had previously worsened due to the downturn in business in the Corona crisis. Four center-left government ministers signed a decree establishing a new national airline. This was announced by Roberto Gualtieri’s Ministry of Finance.
Newspapers and the Ansa news agency named “Italia Trasporto Aereo” – ITA would be abbreviated – as the name of the new establishment in the decree. Italy’s Minister of Transport, Paola De Micheli, spoke of “ITAliana” on Facebook: “It will be ITAliana because it is supposed to bring Italy into the world.” The minister wrote of an “industrial company in the service of the country” intended to stimulate tourism.
The business newspaper “Sole 24 Ore” and other media reported, citing the decree, that the company should initially have only a small capital. The company still has to be registered with the Italian Court of Auditors.
“The establishment of a new company represents the first step towards creating a high-quality transport company that is competitive on the international market,” Minister Gualtieri was quoted as saying. The “foundation stone for the revitalization of Italian air traffic” will be laid. At the same time, top managers of the new company were named. According to Gualtieri, they should present a plan for further development. According to the Ansa news agency, it was also a question of obtaining EU support for the concepts, such as the transfer of activities, in Brussels.
As “Sole 24 Ore” wrote, one must first speak of a “company in the making” that is not yet operational. The basic idea is to gradually transfer parts of the old Alitalia there, the paper explained, citing earlier information from politics. The exact concept, which could also include a reduction in the number of aircraft, must still be presented and coordinated with the EU.
The government had also announced that a state-dominated airline should only be a transitional phenomenon. There were several reports of talks with potential other investors or partners as well as a tug of war within the government and with the unions.
The old Alitalia is a national symbol with more than 10,000 jobs. The state has supported the distressed society several times with high millions. For the restart, he promised three billion euros months ago as part of the corona aid. According to reports, Alitalia had just applied for an extension of short-time work for almost 7,000 employees until 2021.
Alitalia has not made a profit since 2002 and has been bankrupt since May 2017. In December 2019, Rome had appointed a new liquidator. Buyers were sought on the international market, but that turned out to be difficult. Lufthansa had also given the flag several times.