The future of Alitalia is looking even more grim as both Lufthansa and Italian state railway Ferrovie dello Stato are no longer interested in investing in the airline. Local media reports that both parties have pulled out of the bidding, leaving only Atlantia left interested. With Italy vowing not to pump any more money into the struggling airline, the situation for the carrier has never been more precarious.
The future looks bleak
The future of Alitalia is looking even darker today, as reports suggest that two major investors have pulled out of the bidding process. Italian rail company Ferrovie dello Stato and German aviation group Lufthansa have reportedly stepped away from the deal.
During a hearing before the Transport Commission of the Italian Chamber of Deputies yesterday, the Minister of Economic Development, Stefano Patuanelli, is reported by local press to have said,
“We are on a narrow and difficult road”
He went on to say that there are not “endless possibilities” for finding a buyer for the struggling carrier, expressing frustration at the lack of interest in the beleaguered airline. Meanwhile, the carrier continues to lose money at a rate of as much as €2m per day.
Lufthansa and Ferrovie both pulled out
The Italian public railway operator, Ferrovie dello Stato, has been in negotiations for several months. The rail operator initially made an offer in October, although it was subject to several conditions including not being the majority shareholder of the consortium it hoped to create.
Ferrovie worked hard to form a consortium, talking with US airline Delta as well as easyJet, before both those parties pulled out of the negotiation. Now, it seems they have given up entirely. Managing director of the railway, Gianfranco Battisti, told the parliamentary committee,
“For us, this procedure is closed, we are out of the operation.”
Lufthansa was hoped by many to be the 11th-hour savior of the airline, as rumors circulated that the German group was in negotiations with the Italian government. However, the day before and inf front of the same commission Joerg Eberhart, CEO of Air Dolomiti (Lufthansa’s Italian arm) explained that it wasn’t going to happen.
He is reported by Le Monde as saying that “a strong partnership [with Alitalia was] more advantageous than an investment”. He went on to say that a “deep restructuring of the company” would be essential to Lufthansa’s involvement.
Now, it seems that no more interested parties remain. Atlantia, a company owned by the Benetton family) is the last standing potential investor, but their interest is widely being seen as a means to an end. Atlantia is the company responsible for Italy’s highways, and is facing removal of its contract following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in 2018.
Battisti slammed the construction company’s interest, saying that, “it became clear that (their) interest was on condition of the resolution of other files,” indicating that he believes the company simply wanted to leverage Alitalia for its own gain. He summarised his thoughts saying,
“There is absolutely no point in continuing to speak with Atlantia”
The construction company previously said they would pull out of the bidding, but still appear to be waiting in the wings.
It’s a dire time for Alitalia, as the government has pledged not to pump any more money into the airline going forward. With no interested investors remaining, a shut down of the airline is becoming a real possibility.