“Alitalia can save itself by imitating Aegean” – La Stampa


Let’s take stock: according to the Relaunch Decree, Alitalia should receive 3 billion of public money to return to take off (in addition to 350 million to repair the damage due to the coronavirus); everything is subject to the authorization of the European Commission, where however the paperwork for the other two loans, of 900 and 400 million, granted by the Italian State in recent years and disappeared into thin air are still open without producing neither reorganization nor (let alone) relaunch . With the general economic crisis, Brussels has become loose-handed in authorizing state aid, and will certainly say yes (for example) to the 9 billion that Lufthansa could receive from the German government; however, the EU still poses a condition: public aid to airlines that were in good health before the pandemic and were ballasted by an external and unpredictable event such as Covid-19 (and this is the case of Lufthansa) while aid to carriers that were in a terminal crisis before was still outlawed as a distortion of competition.
The Alitalia case will push the evaluation of the European Commission to the extreme: the analyst Antonio Bordoni, professor of management of the area companies at the Luiss University of Rome (and editor of the newsletter www.aviation-industry-news.com), reports that the The EU is called upon to give the go-ahead, in the dark, to “a newco that has not yet been established and which completely lacks an industrial plan”. Unless you want to consider statements like these from the Minister of Economy, Roberto Gualtieri, as an industrial plan: “We believe that it is possible to entrust the management of a company that makes profits and is capable of developing to a competent and quality management “alliances. Is this an industrial plan? “Everything seems somewhat improvised” comments Bordoni.
But what would it take? According to the analyst “it is necessary to establish how the new Alitalia will position itself in the European and world scenario. Do you want to operate alone, as for example the Greek Aegean Airlines, heir to the flag carrier Olympic, which is active only on European and Mediterranean routes, completely excluding intercontinental routes? Or do you want to relaunch yourself as a company dedicated to the usual mixed short-medium haul, plus some long haul routes? ”. This formula has not worked so far and it is not clear why it should work now, in considerably worse conditions: “On the North Atlantic, the main world air market, the three major alliances have obtained immunity from antitrust rules, and can implement tariffs and offer of flights as they please. This means that operations on the North Atlantic are today restricted to three major players: Lufthansa / United, British Airways / American, Air France-Klm / Delta. Being out of this loop means giving up a primary source of traffic. ” And it is not clear how Alitalia can compete, given that, Bordoni continues, “while Alitalia still boasts the SkyTeam brand, everyone seems to be cheering for Lufthansa who leads the competing Star Alliance alliance”. Business plan …?

According to Bordoni “it is now under everyone’s eyes that Alitalia is out of the big games of alliances, if not as prey. Now we try to get back on a revisited company with the hope of making it attractive to some buyers. One pretends to forget is that the state as the majority shareholder is the problem and not the solution. But it was too many political interferences to ruin Alitalia, how can you seriously think of restarting it with the same subject that reduced it to the state of bankruptcy? “. The Luiss analyst believes instead that “for Alitalia the Aegean regional model is the only sustainable one” and that it promises well also thanks to the greater tourism, economic and demographic potential of Italy compared to Greece.

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