Alitalia’s Death Postponed

I’d take a poll on how many people are surprised to hear that Alitalia looks like it has cheated death once again, but I know the answer. Nobody is surprised, and you shouldn’t be. This airline will live on forever, and that’s good news for me. It appears they will remain the worst airline ever for the foreseeable future.

The last of the unions has finally buckled, and now the Italian investor group will be able to do its magic.Alitalia Worst Airline Ever Alitalia will now be merged with Air One and only the “profitable” parts will survive, or so they say. I’d expect to see the long haul routes be hurt the most in these cuts, but hopefully other parts will be slashed as well. They need it. Total expected cost to the taxpayer? Expected to be a mere 2 billion euros. Sounds like a drop in the bucket compared to the US financial bailout, but we’re talking about one small airline here.

Now the last big question is . . . will they partner with Lufthansa or Air France/KLM? Both airlines are angling at a minority stake, but it sounds like the government likes Lufthansa best, so I’m sure that’s what will happen. This would be another remarkable addition for Lufthansa on their latest buying spree. For those keeping score, they now own Swiss, they bought half of SN Brussels (with the rest to be bought later), they have rights to buy bmi, and they’re in talks with SAS and Austrian. This ignores their regional carriers. That’s a huge chunk of European aviation that would be under Lufthansa’s control.

Now that it’s clear that Alitalia won’t be going anywhere, it makes more sense for these airlines to try to grab a piece of them. This is probably the only way to get a real foothold in the country since the Italian government won’t let anyone succeed if it’s at Alitalia’s expense. So, if they want in to Italy, this is the way to go.

Lufthansa already has an agreement with Air One, and they serve a great deal of Italian traffic through their Munich hub which is only an hour away from Milan by air. So they’d clearly like to keep their involvement there. On the other hand, Air France already has Alitalia as a Skyteam partner, and now that they have a chance of survival, they’ll want to keep them around as well.

Let’s see how involved the Italians get in this process. Undoubtedly, the government will step in and make things more difficult than they should be. Stay tuned for more fun-filled antics from the worst airline ever in the coming weeks.

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