Carlo Calenda, the Minister of Economic Development was blunt when saying there are three priorities for the Italian Government when it comes to Alitalia.
The first is it continues to bring business and tourism into the country, the second that it costs the Italian state nothing, and third that it protects as many workers as financially feasible.
The country has spent nearly US$9.5 billion on the airline for zero return and all that’s happened is that things have got worse over the last 20 years.
Ex-Ferrari boss and entrepeneur Luca di Montezemolo failed to revive the airline when Etihad took a huge stake in it a few short years ago. He’ll at least be remembered for its new livery.
The long haul arm of the business is running well at present, the short haul less so, and several airlines expressed interest. The most likely winner has got to be Lufthansa Group, most of the rest are also-rans or just interested in short-haul operations or ground services.
Either way, whatever happens to the final sale, Alitalia is never going to be the same again, and if its workforce and unions think they are going to hold new owners hostage as they did with the current ones, it’s going to find the world is a very changed place. Nobody will invest with a workforce that won’t work with them. The situation now was brought on by unions over stretching themselves and thinking they could bring the company into line, as they had so many times before.
Their mistake was not seeing that Etihad did have a choice, and one of them was to let the airline fail, lose its investment and not be held to ransom time and again as the Italian Government had been.
Perhaps 2018 will be the start of something genuinely new and beneficial for all those involved with one of the most troubled of Europe’s legacy airlines.