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Can FS make Alitalia
run on time? — May 2019

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Two years ago Alitalia ran out of cash and was put into short-term emergency administration, getting a government loan of €900m to be repaid within six months. The idea was to allow the administrators the time to find a buyer for the flag-carrier. The period of special administration has been extended several times and now is due to expire at the end of June. Meanwhile this month, various unions staged an industry-wide 24-hour strike causing an irritating level of flight cancellations. Ostensibly this was to protest at the lack of progress in securing a future for Alitalia; it could also have been because this is Italy and it was May.

Various potential bidders have come and gone — including easyJet and Lufthansa — while Air France-KLM, with its own problems and having already been badly burnt, refused to take part. Those still in the frame appear to be Delta and Ferrovie dello Stato (FS, the Italian state-owned operator of railways and motorways). The excuse for the further extension of the loan to the end of June was to allow FS to “develop a credible business plan”. You would have thought that the two years since having been told to invest might have been sufficient for a rail operator to learn about the aviation business, and work out how to justify an investment of a few billion euros.


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