I know you guys have been champing at the bit, waiting for an update on the latest with Alitalia. I’ve actually been wanting to write about this for a little while, but I figured I’d wait until I went to last night’s launch party at LAX for the new LAX-Rome service. It was a surreal event; like hanging out on the Titanic while half the ship is already under water.
As for the event itself, it was a relatively nice and simple affair over at the always fantastic Flight Path Learning Center. The food and Peroni were good, and they handed out a few freebie tickets on the new LAX nonstop. I think the highlight was when Alitalia’s North America head said that the current situation made it seem like Alitalia should be on Jerry Springer. At least he has a sense of humor about it. I actually felt sorry for some of these guys. So what exactly is the latest?
When we left off last time, Alitalia had accepted the AF/KL bid and even the government had gotten behind it. But, they still needed to get the unions to back the bid. Um, that didn’t happen. And even worse, the Italian government fell apart. Without the approvals they needed, AF/KL walked away, but I’m sure they’d come back if all the other parties decided to stop acting like children.
In the election for the new government, Alitalia, the symbol of national pride (what a horrible symbol), was one of the top campaign issues. Silvio Berlusconi, the man that the Economist called “unfit to lead a modern democracy“, campaigned on the idea that he could prevent Alitalia from falling into non-Italian hands.
Sadly, he won.
So now, not only are the unions against AF/KL, but so is the government. Let’s be clear here. Berlusconi talks a big game. He’s said:
Many businesses, including big ones, have come forward to guarantee the necessary capital for a completely Italian team which, once it knows the accounts of Alitalia, will be able to present a bid.
Um, no. Or, somebody will come forward, but it won’t be even close to being as attractive of a bid as the one from AF/KL. Really, AF/KL is the only true hope for this company to survive, and Berlusconi is beating his chest, acting proud, and sounding like a complete idiot. Of course, he has to cave, but not until he can save some face. Just yesterday, he said:
As concerns the Air France hypothesis, if we went back to the initial project for Alitalia which gave the same weight to Alitalia as the other two airlines as well as being Italian orientated, I would be happy to discuss the possibility and once I take office I will speak about this subject with President Sarkozy.
See, he’s starting to change his tune. You know what’ll happen next. He’ll get a couple of concessions and then he’ll let AF/KL buy the airline. Then he’ll try and look like a hero even though he’s doing nothing good.
I guess I should be happy about this. When AF/KL is allowed to take them over, it’ll probably mean I’ll have to find another “Worst Airline Ever” to pick on. I’m just going to enjoy this for now.