Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) will replace state-owned Alitalia and start flying in mid-October. This after Italy reached a long-awaited deal with the European Commission following months of haggling over the fate of the old, loss-making airline.
The focus of the negotiations was making ITA independent of Alitalia, ensuring it was not liable for paying back the billions of euros the old carrier received in state aid.
ITA will start flying from 15th October. In a statement, ITA said it will aim to raise initial capital of €700million to buy assets from the old company and start operations.
The new airline said it expected revenue of just above €3.3billion in 2025. It added it would reach earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of €209 million euros and a break-even by the third quarter of 2023.
ITA will buy assets for its aviation business directly from Alitalia. It will also bid in a public tender to acquire the carrier’s brand, which it sees as “an essential element in carrying out its industrial plan”. That was one of the European Union requirements for the deal.
The outcome also means ITA will inherit only part of Alitalia’s flight slots. These are a major asset and proved a major sticking point in the talks. ITA will get 85% of the Alitalia slots at Milan’s Linate airport and 43% at Rome’s Fiumicino hub.
ITA will initially operate a fleet of 52 planes. Seven are wide-body aircraft used for longer-haul routes. The number will increase progressively to 105 aircraft in 2025.
European Commission still investing Alitalia grant
The European Commission said it would ensure the launch of ITA would be in line with EU state aid rules.
Investigations by the Commission into the €1.3billion granted to Alitalia were ongoing.
Is the new company’s plan strong enough?
Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini said the new company would be competitive in the national and international market and would have “significant development perspectives”. However, some coalition government members complained the new plan was not strong enough.
National unions for the airline sector strongly rejected ITA’s plan. They described it as weak, saying the employment commitments were unacceptable.
Of the 11,000-strong Alitalia staff, between 2,750 and 2,950 will be employed in the ITA’s aviation unit this year. The figure is expected to 5,550-5,700 in 2025.
Up to 4,000 workers will probably get employment in handling and maintenance units.
An industry ministry statement said it would “take charge of the social repercussions … activating safeguards to support the workers who will not find a place in the new company”.