Football Club Owner Bids For Alitalia

In a last-minute twist to the Alitalia story, a new potential buyer has appeared to take over the struggling Italian airline. Claudio Lotito, the chairman of Rome’s S.S. Lazio football club, has apparently made a concrete offer for the airline. This news roadblocks the plans of another potential bidder, Italian railway corporation Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), as reported by Reuters.

This new investor has changed the airlines future at the very last minute. Photo: Alitalia

What is wrong with Alitalia?

Alitalia is the national carrier of Italy, with a fleet of 97 aircraft flying to 94 destinations. The airline has been struggling for some time, with two bankruptcies in the last few years (2008 and 2017).

Like many other full-service airlines, the carrier has found it tough to compete in the inter-European market against low-cost-carriers like Ryanair and Easyjet. As well as this, they’re up against powerful foreign airlines on international routes, like Emirates and Singapore Airlines.

In fact, one of Alitalia’s rivals, Air Italy, is 49% owned by Middle Eastern airline Qatar.

Sadly for Alitalia, the airline became insolvent, and after a disaster of investment by Etihad, is now looking for new buyers. The Italian government, however, doesn’t just want the airline to survive; they want it to thrive in the marketplace. They are looking for strong investors, who already know the marketplace and can bring unique partnership opportunities.

Alitalia B777
An Alitalia Boeing 777 Photo: Alitalia

Who wants to buy it?

So far, there have been several interested parties keen to buy the national carrier.

  • Ryanair was one of the first who put up their hand to buy the airline, but later canceled their bid.
  • Easyjet also entered the ring to take over the airline, but withdrew from discussions earlier this year.
  • Delta Air Lines is also interested in investing and expanding their presence in Europe.
  • Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), the state-owned train company, has also said that they will invest a significant chunk into the business.

Together, these partners still in the picture (with the Italian government) have put together a plan to revitalize the airline.

In reports from Brinkwire and we know that Ferrovie Dello Stato, the Italian State Railway is prepared to take a 30% stake in Alitalia. Delta Airlines would also take a 10-15% share and the Italian Treasury would invest in 15%. This joint-effort is worth roughly one billion euros. However, a shortfall of around 400 million euros still exists.

It is possible that this 400 million euros in debt will be absorbed by the Italian government.

Many different airlines have said they want a slice of Alitalia Photo: Wikipedia

The new investor

That 400 million euro shortfall might come from the new investor, Claudio Lotito, who has said that he is interested in investing in his countries carrier. Claudio Lotito has a net worth of approx. $100 million, and would be able to attract significant media attention for the airline during its relaunch.

Whether or not the Italian government will accept his bid remains to be seen, but it is quite the left turn right at the finish line for administrators.

What do you think? Should Alitalia accept the new money from Claudio Lotito? Let us know in the comments.