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Alitalia A319 (photo: © Thorbjørn Brunander Sund, danishaviationphoto.com)

Crisis time again for Alitalia

Two weeks before a deadline for a deal to rescue the ailing flag carrier, easyJet walks away from a consortium to save it.

Just two weeks before a deadline for a deal to save Alitalia, the low-cost carrier easyJet says it is pulling out of a consortium it formed with the US airline Delta and Italy’s national rail company to buy it.

The consortium would have given easyJet and Delta up to 40% of the bankrupt airline for up to €400 million, media reports say.

Alitalia failed for the third time in a decade in 2017 but has continued flying since thanks to government support of €900 million.

Now Delta has been left in talks with the Ferrovie dello Stato rail company, with the US carrier saying in a statement that “discussions remain ongoing as Alitalia is a long-standing partner of Delta”.

Italy’s populist government has set a deadline of the end of March for the two remaining companies to come up with an Alitalia rescue plan.

But Delta has previously said it can only imagine taking a 15% stake or spending around €100 million, an inside source told the news agency Reuters last week. And Ferrovie is not willing to take a stake in Alitalia of more than 30%.

Key market
As it walks away from the potential deal, easyJet says it “remains committed to Italy as a key market for the company, where it currently carries 18.5m passengers every year and employs 1400 pilots and crew, all on local contracts”.

If the end-of-March deadline is missed, it would risk the repayment of the government’s €900 million state loan to Alitalia, which has to take place by the end of June.

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