Alitalia, the EU turns the spotlight on the 3 billion of the relaunch decree

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Servicestate aid

The establishment of a new public capital air transport company, as required by the decree, will have to be examined by the European Antitrust Authority. But yet another bailout at the expense of the taxpayers will be a difficult operation to explain to the partners, just as Italy is asking for community grants to overcome the economic crisis caused by the pandemic

by Giuseppe Chiellino

Coronavirus, Alitalia: vertical drop in lockdown revenues

The establishment of a new public capital air transport company, as required by the decree, will have to be examined by the European Antitrust Authority. But yet another bailout at the expense of the taxpayers will be a difficult operation to explain to the partners, just as Italy is asking for community grants to overcome the economic crisis caused by the pandemic

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The European Commission has not yet closed the two practices open on Alitalia for loans of 900 and 400 million, which already has to rekindle the spotlight on the 3 billion euros of capital envisaged by the Relaunch decree to capitalize on a new company that – in the intentions of the government – would take the place of Alitalia. The “new” company would be controlled by the Ministry of Economy or in any case by a company with a public majority.

The operation is subject to the authorization of the Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, which just at the beginning of the pandemic had suspended the judgment on the 400 million loan to “old Alitalia”, in extraordinary administration. Before then, the Commission has no reason to comment, even if contacts between Rome and Brussels have already started.

Difficult operation to explain to EU partners

However, the road is already uphill. Yet another bailout at the expense of taxpayers, in a country that loudly asks European partners for grants, is a difficult move to explain. Since at the end of 2019 the company was not performing, the flexible state aid rules introduced by Brussels for the pandemic, that are not applicable temporary framework thanks to which Lufthansa will get 9 billion euros from the German government. According to the Italian authorities, the establishment of a public capital newco is a market operation and therefore the disbursement of 3 billion would not constitute state aid. In support of this thesis there would be the value attributed to the slots on the medium and long haul that the old Alitalia still has and the fact that the air transport crisis, caused by Covid, has drastically lowered the cost of renting aircraft. For both slots and planes, as well as for staff, the newco should tap into the commissariat company.

Business discontinuity

For the operation to be authorized by the EU, business discontinuity is necessary, as already happened in 2008. This entails some conditions, starting with the downsizing of the company perimeter, with the reduction of routes (at the end of 2019 there were 81, of which 24 in Italy, for about 3600 weekly flights), of the number of machines (118 current) and the number of employees, today just under 12 thousand.



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https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/alitalia-ue-accende-riflettori-3-miliardi-decreto-rilancio-ADeqo1S

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