EUROPE & CIS: ‘New’ Alitalia takes to the skiesya

After months of haggling with unions and frenetic talks with politicians seeking to save local airports, a new, slimmeddown Alitalia took to the skies today, after months of uncertainty as to its future after the former state-controlled airlinefiled for bankruptcy in August. “We’ve done it. There’s no turning back from the new Alitalia now and […]


After months of haggling with unions and frenetic talks with politicians seeking to save local airports, a new, slimmeddown Alitalia took to the skies today, after months of uncertainty as to its future after the former state-controlled airlinefiled for bankruptcy in August.

“We’ve done it. There’s no turning back from the new Alitalia now and all the prophets of misfortune have been silenced,” said Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi, whose government had made saving Alitalia a top priority.

Italian investment group CAI paid just over 1 billion euros for Alitalia in December, with Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, recently coming on board as a key shareholder with a 25 per cent stake estimated at nearly 323 million euros.

But in a stark reminder of the lingering challenges facing the reshaped carrier, Alitalia workers wary of the impact from a new alliance with Air France-KLM demonstrated at Milan’s Malpensa airport by chanting slogans and waving union banners, causing delays.

At Rome’s Fiumicino airport, delays of more than two hours were reported as workers marched outside.

Air France-KLM CEO, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the acquisition of a minority stake in Alitalia was “nearly an ideal case.” Alitalia’s managers had the advantage of “defining the company at the bottom of the market,” he said.