New Alitalia Talks Continue As Deadline For Summer Start Looms

This week will be an important one for Alitalia’s revival, as discussions between the European Commission and the Italian government will enter a new phase. The two sides have been butting heads over slot possession, as Brussels insists that some of these slots be surrendered by the Italian carrier. The talks continue to drag on while the summer holiday season slowly approaches.

New Alitalia Talks Continue As Deadline For Summer Start Looms
Alitalia will undergo restructuring under the oversight of a new state-owned company. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A crucial week for negotiations

According to Reuters, Italian Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti has highlighted that this week’s upcoming talks will enter a crucial phase as the Italian government has been negotiating terms of a €3 billion ($3.53 billion) bailout with the European Commission. While the injection of funds is coming from the Italian government, EU approval is still required for such a deal.

The Italian government now oversees Alitalia via a state-owned company named ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo).

“There is a tug-of-war with Brussels … in the name of competition, the EU wants (ITA) to free up as many (airport) slots as possible, but this is not in the interest of the new company,” -Giancarlo Giorgetti, Italian Minister for Industry

New Alitalia Talks Continue As Deadline For Summer Start Looms
Slots are the main point of contention during the ongoing discussions. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

“Italy has not bent to the EU … this is why talks have dragged on,” Giorgetti added. While trade unions claim that the EU has been tougher in this situation than in similar negotiations with Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, the Italian Minister did acknowledge that Alitalia posted a loss in 2019, while Air France-KLM and Lufthansa were profitable over the same period.

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What is the European Commission demanding again?

In order to approve Italy’s rescue of the struggling airline, the EU is requesting the following of ITA:

New Alitalia Talks Continue As Deadline For Summer Start Looms
If discussions are successful, Alitalia will likely emerge with a different name with a much smaller fleet. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying reports that Italian media have already highlighted loss-making operations that will need to be cut. The new airline will need to implement the following:

  • Reduce frequencies between Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino.
  • A full severance of loss-making routes such as Bologna-Catania, Genoa-Olbia, or Alghero-Trieste.
  • Ending intercontinental routes to Santiago de Chile or Seoul. Combined, these routes recorded a loss of €28 million ($33 million)
  • Abandoning flights between Rome and Pisa or Milan and Trapani

Hopefully, the two sides can reach an agreement this week. With the summer season coming quickly and COVID-19 vaccinations ongoing, there is likely to be some pent-up demand that the new Alitalia will be able to cash in on.

Do you think the EU is demanding too much of the restructured Italian airline? Or are these major changes necessary to make its operations profitable? Let us know by leaving a comment.