Alitalia’s hope of a rescue big has been further thrown into doubt today as transport company Atlantia has reportedly pulled out of the bidding. The company, a shareholder in Rome airport, says that conditions have not been met, and therefore it will no longer be participating.
What did Atlantia want?
The Italian company, almost the entire owner of Aeroporti di Roma, had previously expressed an interest in struggling Alitalia, saying that it wanted to discuss a long term business plan for the carrier. Part of this would involve setting up a new company, imaginatively named Newco, and having a major airline on board to provide operational, commercial and network experience.
However, there were plenty of hoops set out by Atlantia that the consortium would have to jump through in order to secure its business. The company requested that there should be a partner in the consortium who would be willing to take a substantial share in Newco. There would also be a business plan, which this investor would need to commit to, and agreement on the governance of the new company.
Despite all efforts, Atlantia revealed in an update yesterday that they had not been enough. The company is reported by Flight Global as saying,
“As things stand, the conditions that need to be met in order for Atlantia to be able to take part in a consortium – set up to put together a binding offer for Alitalia – do not as yet exist.”
IN fact, the company said there had been a ‘lack of significant progress’, and that it therefore would not, at this stage, join the Ferrovie dello Stato led consortium to rescue the carrier. It did, however, say that it remained available to engage in negotiations to find a suitable industrial partner for Alitalia.
What hope now for Alitalia?
Originally Ferrovie and Atlantia were talking to both Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa about investment in the carrier. Delta was clearly keen, and ready to invest €100m, but talks broke down over the carrier’s long haul business ambitions.
Lufthansa, however, is still somewhat interested, but perhaps not interested enough. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr spoke at The IATA Wings of Change Europe event this week about the German company’s position, stating,
“We have not changed our position. In the current Alitalia, we will not invest. But we would be interested in being the commercial partner to turn the company into a successful airline. Once it is a successful airline, we also see ourselves investing.”
With no investor coming forward and the consortium lacking in partners, Alitalia must wait again to find out if it can be saved from collapse.
In the meantime, Italy is faced with the prospect of having to pump hundreds of millions of euros in support to the airline in order to keep it afloat. Already, the government has extended substantial loans to the national carrier after Etihad withdrew its support in 2017.