Efforts to turn around the fortunes of Italy’s embattled flag carrier Alitalia have suffered a major setback after one of the key partners behind a proposed rescue bid pulled out on Tuesday (19 November).
In July, Italian highways firm and airport holding company Atlantia was chosen as the fourth and final partner in a consortium pulled together by the country’s state rail firm Ferrovie dello Stato, which has been tasked with bailing out Alitalia.
Atlantia had been set to take a 40% stake in the carrier, with Ferrovie holding 35% and Italy’s economic ministry 15%, leaving 10% reserved for an airline partner. Both Delta and Lufthansa have been courted for investment, but neither have made a formal commitment to the project.
Lufthansa chief executive on Tuesday ruled out investing in Italia, but said the group was interested in forming a commercial partnership with Alitalia. EasyJet, meanwhile, cooled its interest back in March.
Late on Tuesday, Atlantia confirmed it too would take no further part in the discussions, citing a “lack of any significant developments” in relation to a number of issues it raised in October.
“The company announces that, as things stand, the conditions that need to be met in order for Atlantia to be able to take part in a consortium, set up to put together a binding offer for Alitalia, do not as yet exist,” said the company in a statement.
Atlantia has though said it would be willing to help Ferrovie identify an “industrial partner” and reach and agreement on a “solid, long-term business plan for the turnaround of Alitalia”.
It follows months of discussions over the future of Alitalia, which has been operating in a state of special administration since May 2017.
Citing Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, Reuters reports Alitalia could be nationalised “for some years” before being sold.