Alitalia: Italy's national airline to file for administration as turnaround plan fails

Alitalia, whose major shareholders are Abu-Dhabi based Etihad Airways and Italian banks, last week said it had exhausted all options to stay solvent 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alitalia started bankruptcy proceedings for the second time in a decade after workers rejected job cuts and concessions linked to a €2bn ($2.2bn) recapitalisation plan aimed at salvaging the cash-strapped Italian airline.

Shareholders voted unanimously to file for special administration, the carrier said in a statement following a meeting on Tuesday. Under Italian law, the government will have to provide stop-gap funds to maintain operations and will appoint supervisors to turn around the carrier or order its liquidation.

With the move, the board of directors have “acknowledged the serious economic and financial situation of the company,” the company said in the statement.

The administrators will take over the business and present a new strategy that may entail asset sales, reduced operations and job cuts aimed at making the airline viable within two years. If a turnaround isn’t possible the administrators may order the carrier to be liquidated.

Alitalia, whose major shareholders are Abu-Dhabi based Etihad Airways and Italian banks, last week said it had exhausted all options to stay solvent after workers nixed a recapitalisation plan involving 1,600 job cuts. Alitalia, which has 12,500 employees, has been stumbling in the wake of a previous bankruptcy in 2008.

Italian finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan said last week that the government will not pump more cash into boosting the airline’s capital.

Alitalia is “a private company” and its fate is “in the hands of shareholders and management," Mr Padoan told lawmakers in Rome on Thursday. Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda on 30 April said he hopes the carrier can be sold as "a whole, not in pieces."

Shrinking Share

Alitalia’s years of underperformance have diminished its standing within the Italian economy and the aviation industry. Carrier’s share of the Italian market slumped to 18 per cent as of 2015 from 23 per cent in 2007, according to an analysis by Ugo Arrigo and Andra Giuricin of Milan Bicocca University.

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, now ranks No. 1 with a 23 per cent share, up from 12 per cent a decade earlier.

The Italian airline had a net loss of €199m in 2015, the last year for which it has published figures. The carrier had lost almost €3bn since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, the study shows.

The special administrators will have 180 days to come up with a new plan, with a possible extension of 90 days. The process, available for large insolvent companies, is aimed at protecting a company’s assets and workers through reorganisation.

Bloomberg

Comments