You can only be amused of the news coming out of Italy surrounding the end of the Alitalia that had its last flight on Thursday and the new ITA – Italia Transport Aero that begins flying today.
ITA that will soon be called Alitalia, after purchasing the name and internet domain for 90 million euros, and continues to fly the same unprofitable routes as its numerous predecessors albeit with a reduced number of employees. What has really changed?
You can access ITA here.
A message that ITA has up on its website:
The brand name of Alitalia and the internet domain Alitalia.com were purchased for 90 million euros in an auction by the ITA, after the first auction with a starting price of 290 million euros had no bidders.
ITA will employ 2,800 staff compared to 10,000 or so by Alitalia. Also, the airline begins its operations with 52 aircraft.
Alitalia has received more than 10 billion euros since 2008 from the Italian government in the form of state aid that is in direct violation of the European Union laws (you are not indefinitely allowed to prop up failing businesses). The government has capitalized the new airline with 1.3 billion euros.
The European Union has already ruled the previous subsidies unlawful, and only signed off this ITA airline if it starts from a clean slate.
Also, Etihad lost a considerable amount of cash when it decided to take a 49% stake in Alitalia and back some of its loans.
It is unclear what happened with Alitalia’s MilleMiglia frequent flyer program that is also being sold to an unrelated third party that can later sell it to ITA (Alitalia).
For me, it seems, that this is a convoluted solution to an Italian problem.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to just let Alitalia finally collapse and let someone else than the Italian government start a new airline? It has already rebooted twice previously and has been in administration since 2017.
It is very difficult to see how you can profitably start a new airline in the current environment regardless of what your cost base is.
I liked flying Alitalia a few times when it was under Etihad’s “control” with dine-on-demand and nice lounges. It has been a borderline disaster on a couple of short-haul flights ever since.
We certainly wish the new Alitalia the very best. Somehow I just have a feeling that this will be merely a Déjà vu.