Alitalia no, Air France and Lufthansa yes: EU strabismus on state aid

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Rome, May 10 – The blockage of flights caused by the coronavirus epidemic has literally brought the sector of the sector to its kneescivil aviation. So much as to force governments to intervene massively to avoid the collapse of their carriers. Unless your name is called Alitalia.

Three billion for Alitalia

Alitalia will restart in June. Both with flights – now reduced to a light – and as a corporate team. As already provided for by a paragraph inserted in the “cura Italia” decree of March, the company will be (again) nationalized.

The government’s initial commitment is 500 million, a sum that should however rise – at least as a capital endowment, up to 3 billion euros. Objective to give the company “a real recovery plan on the air transport market” according to the guidelines already outlined at the end of April: a small fleet, but designed to target long-haul routes and thus regain those still profitable market segments.

Aid in Europe

While London still evaluates the nationalization hypothesis (but British Airways is part, together with Iberia, of the Anglo-Hispanic group IAG), this is now taken for granted in Germany. Berlin will in fact enter Lufthansa, almost a quarter of a century after privatization, with 25% of the capital. The acquisition of the relative majority stake will cost the public coffers approximately 10 billion. Fewer – 7 billion – the intervention announced by France in aid of Air France-Klm, between direct loans and guarantees.

Given the global difficult situation linked to the epidemic, the EU Commission has decided to ease the constraints on state aid, considered too rigid to cope with the current situation. Green light therefore to the concessions of loans assisted by public guarantee, but also – where necessary – to direct recapitalisations. It is on the basis of this renewed (temporally) regulatory framework that Brussels has already given its assent to the maneuvers on Air France, while the decisions of the federal executive are expected for Lufthansa before providing the (discounted) stamp.

The “no” from the Commission to Alitalia

Self within the Union there are children and stepchildren, even in this case the difference in treatment is evident. In Paris and Berlin everything (or almost) is allowed, for Rome instead there is always the quibble. This is how, according to community sources, the Commission is not inclined to allow the recapitalization of Alitalia.

“The Commission – an official told the AdnKronos agency – is ready to discuss any measures to deal with the situation in Alitalia. But this tool (the recapitalization, ed) is limited to companies that were not in difficulty at the end of 2019. This does not mean that there are no other tools available, but if the company was not healthy before this crisis, it is another problem and this is not the tool suitable”. Said revisiting Orwell: State aid is all the same, but some are more equal than others.

Filippo Burla

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