As the ‘new’ Alitalia takes shape and continues its restructuring, the airline is facing a new challenge as the European Commission (EC) is demanding it surrender a large portion of its airport slots. The news, reported on March 26th, comes from a number of sources close to the matter.
Keeping Alitalia alive
The new Alitalia, which is now under the stewardship and control of state-owned company ‘ITA,’ will need to give up a significant number of airport slots, according to sources reporting to Reuters.
This news comes at the same time that the Brussels-based European Commission approved €24.7 million ($29 million) of Italian state aid. This is just several months after the EC also ruled that €73.02 million ($86.46 million) of Italian-government support to Alitalia was in line with EU State aid rules.
Brussels vs. Rome
The Italian government thinks that ITA should take over the Alitalia brand as well as its slots. ITA should also acquire part of the assets of the old carrier in order to commence passenger operations with a small fleet before the summer.
The European Commission, on the other hand, is reportedly demanding a significant reduction in the number of slots that the old Alitalia would transfer to ITA. The unidentified source goes on to say that the ITA business plan has yet to be cleared by the EC. This approval is required as the airline is being nationalized and accepting state-aid.
One source told Reuters that the airline’s slots at Milan Linate airport are a problem. Alitalia has operated out of Milan’s two largest airports: The larger and more international-focused Malpensa and the more regional-focused Linate.
What do you think of the European Commission’s demands for the new Alitalia to give up some of its airport slots? Is this handicapping an already weak airline? Or is it necessary to ensure a level playing field? Let us know in the comments.