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

Italy launches new vision for Alitalia

The relaunch is said to include Italian state ownership in the struggling airline – and synergies with the state-owned rail company.

Italy’s populist government is relaunching the loss-bleeding flag carrier Alitalia, aiming to take a 15% stake and including the state railway company as a strategic partner, Associated Press quotes Economic Development Minister Luigi Di Maio as saying.

The eagerly awaited details of the plan were revealed ahead of a meeting with unions, which have already threatened to strike if the plan is not to their liking.

The government is also dealing with an October 31 deadline for offers from other companies to buy stakes in the airline – a process launched by the previous government.

It remains unclear how the new shareholder structure would affect potential bidders’ view of Alitalia, the news agencies AP and ANSA write. But high-ranking officials say the government wants to re-establish Alitalia as the nation’s flagship carrier, ensuring it has preferential rights.

Like Air France
The populist 5-Star Movement in power in Italy made the airline’s future a campaign issue, insisting in press reports that its plans for a stake will not raise objections from European Union regulators.

“We are considering a threshold of government participation that is not so far off from other European experiences,” Di Maio told the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, referring to France’s shareholding in Air France.

A partnership with the national railway Ferrovie dello Stato would create synergies, he added, such as the possibility of integrating air and rail tickets.

“Not only this, Alitalia could concentrate much more on long-range flights, without overloading short- and medium-range national stretches,” he said, adding that the new structure would have room for jobs for young people in tourist-related services.

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