They call Rome, the eternal city. The airline that flies there must be the same. Every time we think Alitalia is about to go, it has been reprieved. In 2013 I thought they were finally doomed but they kept on flying.
It has come at a high cost and with a huge amount of support. Over the last decade, Alitalia as received seven billion euros worth of support. In 2008 the Italian government and a group of Italian companies rescued the carrier. Then in 2014, Etihad bought a 49% stake and attempted to work with the company to reform it and turn it around
Now it looks like the airline is running out of time again.
Alitalia staff were recently asked to agree to a five-year plan of salary cuts and all new staff being hired at much lower salaries. 90% of staff voted in the ballot and 67% rejected the proposal. According to La Republlcia, 50.2% of Italians would have opposed the deal with 49.8% supporting it. In the same survey, Italians stated where they believed the blame for the crisis came from.
- 12.2% blamed the unions
- 26.3% believed an incompetent management was to blame
- 21.5% blamed employees
- 40.1% of the views gathered blamed government choices
Now, there seems to be nowhere left to turn. The airline has been placed into receivership and government has announced its sale. Who will buy the airline in just 15 days?
- 77% of Italians believe the airline should be left to fail
- Etihad has given up. James Hogan, Etihad CEO said: “We have done all we could to support Alitalia, as a minority shareholder, but it is clear this business requires fundamental and far-reaching restructuring to survive and grow in future.
- The Italian government has said they won’t renationalise the airline
- AirFrance KLM tried before to take Alitalia over. Will they try again?
- Is Lufthansa an option?What about IAG, owners of BA
When I was a kid, I flew Alitalia a lot around Europe and the Middle East. They were a glamorous airline with good food, stunning staff in fashionable uniforms who treated guests well. By the 1980s, the Alitalia I knew was becoming less chic. In fact the airline was becoming tatty with unhappy staff made you feel they resented your presence on their planes. I have long said “Goodbye” to the old Alitalia. My more recent ratings have been very negative about the airline.
Not all agree the decline is inevitable. Francesco Staccioli of the UBS union said “But how do you think that a company carrying 24 million people with 120 aircraft can be put into liquidation?“
We will find out very soon. If they make it through this one, then they are the eternal airline!