The Italian government is preparing to welcome a new national carrier now that attempts to rescue current flag carrier Alitalia have fallen through. The government has signed an Air Transport Decree to establish a new airline currently referred to as Newco, although the formal name of the company is signalled to be ITA. We’ve got all the details.
Alitalia has been subject to government intervention since early 2017 after facing bankruptcy. Since then, the story of Alitalia has been full of hopeful investors and sudden collapses. The most recent investor consortium bid fell through earlier this year.
With the government in control, restructuring the airline to form a new, competitive airline became the only option. Now, the government has given a name to the new airline which will be Italy’s national carrier; Newco.
According to FlightGlobal, transport minister Paola De Micheli who signed the decree stated,
“A national airline is born that will have to play a leading role on the European and international market,”
The new name and new identity of the airline will represent a “clear discontinuity” from troubled Alitalia.
Progress at last
Italy’s finance minister, economic development minister and the labour minister also signed the decree, which is being heralded as the breaking of a stalemate after months of minimal progress.
As expected, the new airline will have Fabio Maria Lazzerini as Chief Executive and Francesco Caio as Chairman. The new airline aims to give Italy back a national carrier. It will also provide a strong base for the flag carrier to be a competitive and successful commercial airline.
Talks between Alitalia’s commissioner and the Newco board, as well as with workers unions, are beginning to take place to prepare the new airline for operations. All the while, Alitalia is still flying. The airline was hit hard by the global downturn this year but is still maintaining operations.
Relaunching the airline
Local media are reporting that the new government-owned airline will take off in early 2021. However, the current lack of demand around the world means Alitalia’s successor is starting life with the odds stacked against it.
Labour minister Nunzia Catalfo said the following, according to FlightGlobal.
“With the birth of Newco we are faced with an ambitious challenge, which must be met in order to equip the country with a competitive and qualified air carrier.”
A plan to relaunch the carrier as a low-cost version has already been rejected, meaning the airline will be full-service. The current state of the aviation industry makes this a difficult time to relaunch a full-service carrier.
Although the plan may be for the airline to shed its old Alitalia skin, it hasn’t yet been able to distance itself from Alitalia’s floundering reputation. The new management board have a lot of work to do to make this relaunch a success. One worker’s union commented that the relaunch “must not go wrong” or there could be severe consequences. Only time will tell if Newco can put the Alitalia shadow behind it.
What do you think of the Italian government’s plan? Do you believe the new airline will be a success? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.