The deadline for a new turnaround plan has been kicked further down the road, even though the airline is still haemorrhaging losses.
Two weeks after the UK low-cost carrier easyJet pulled out of a rescue consortium, the process to finally find a buyer for ailing Italian flag carrier Alitalia has been kicked further down the road, the news agency Reuters and airline news site Airline Geeks report.
Three commissioners who are running the airline, which is haemorrhaging losses, says that a new turnaround plan, initially scheduled to be presented on March 31, will now be unveiled on April 30.
A two-month extension had been sought, but Italy’s Ministry for Economic Development allowed one month, making the new deadline the end of April.
Since Alitalia was declared bankrupt in 2017, the Italian government has been keeping it afloat, safeguarding the jobs of almost 11,000 employees. Alitalia’s debts and liabilities are being offloaded onto a ‘bad company’ that will be allowed to fail.
State-owned rail firm Ferrovie dello Stato has agreed to be a majority shareholder but it needs at least one large airline on board as a partner.
The US carrier Delta is thought to be up for taking a stake in the new company, but only 20%. It has an interest in creating synergies on transatlantic routes and in developing Rome’s strategic position as a hub for travel to and from Africa and Asia.
Now easyJet is out of the picture, another interested party must be found. The Italian government has also suggested renationalisation, but this would be considered state aid by an EU already irritated by the populist policies of the government.
Brussels is also unhappy about a €900 million bridge loan to the airline, the deadline for repayment of which has been delayed twice. Financial experts say that the carrier may not be able to secure enough funds to make it through another winter season.