It seems the European Commission has had more complaints about the Italian Government and Alitalia, to the point where it’s launched another investigation to see if the government has offered the airline state aid.
Perennial loss-making flag carrier Alitalia has two major loans – a €900million bridging loan (which the European Commission is still investigating), as well as a fresh loan of €400million.
State Aid in the European Union eyes is a big no-no, with entities expected to stand on their two feet. Aid can only be offered and given if it is offered at a commercial rate to an entity. Illegal state aid would where a loan is offered at a preferential or low rate.
Alitalia has been in trouble since 2017, when Eithad stopped providing further funds to the airline, pushing the airline into bankruptcy and administration whilst the Italian Government propping up the airline.
According to the Associated Press, The European Commission said it launched the probe after receiving a number of complaints about the loan. No details were provided about those who complained or what their suspicions might be.
The Italian Patient
It seems Aliltala loves taking other airlines or reducing their investments in it to nothing – with Air France-KLM Group writing off its total investment in the airline, Eithad refusing to fund it further through its “Equity Alliance” and indirectly taking out Air Italy in the process after accusations of the propped up airline being impossible to complete.
Meanwhile, the airline has done very little make itself viable – with such actions as launching a new uniform and disposing of a few long haul aircraft.
Let it Go
For those of us who have watched Alitalia go from disaster to disaster, the latest investigation should come as no surprise at all.
Alitalia has long suffered from carriers at the bottom eating it for breakfast (with Easyjet and Ryanair making more than appreciable dent in their traffic), whilst at the high end, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa Group and Turkish Airlines, Emirates and so on have been chewing away at their share at the top – leaving the airline exposed, to put it bluntly.
National pride in the past was more than a reason to set up an airline in the past – to project a countries image beyond the borders of a nation. However, Alitalia has failed in every sense to keep up with the world and has paid the price more than once.
I’ve argued that its time to let Alitalia go – either let the brand be picked up by another entity or just fade into memory
And I struggle to see why this airline still can commercially exist in 2020.
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