Delta Airlines, easyJet and Italian Ferrovia del Stato Italia, the state owned railway company, are in talks to make a combined offer for Alitalia.
Alitalia went into effective state supported Administration in May 2017 when unions voted down a bailout deal. Etihad and other investors had enough and walked away, leaving the airline borrowing money from the Government owned Post Office.
New government ministers following an election of a right wing-left wing coalition, one of the strangest political arrangements in Europe, reviewed the way the process was being managed, and have now allowed it to proceed.
easyJet has confirmed its in negotiations with Delta and Ferrovia del Stato Italia, and that it’s for a buyout of the airline.
This is an important defining moment as the government had not wanted to let the airline go completely private.
Indeed Lufthansa was interested but withdrew, when it basically became a case of them paying to relaunch a state owned airline.
The EU is watching how this materialises as the Italians are close to being in breach of the state aid rules, which prevent unfair competition. Any buyout will have to see the millions of Euros loaned by the Post Office, repaid.
However Italy’s Government is chaffing at EU rules generally at present, a standard mode of operations for the right wing parties around Europe with their nationalist and divisive agendas.
easyJet was hopeful of a positive conclusion but clearly didn’t want to raise too many expectations. Delta would be keen to keep Alitalia in Skyteam, and already has links to Alitalia through its partial ownership of AF-KLM, which has a 10% holding in the Italian airline, but no interest in investing in it.