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New Italian government wants Alitalia back

Staff Writer |
The Italian government is proposing that the state take a 51 percent stake in the struggling airline and make it a flagship of 'Italo character'.

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The new Italian government is considering renationalizing the Italian flagship airline Alitalia, which is heavily indebted and currently in administration and faces a December deadline to repay its creditors, The Local reported.

The planned proposal would see the state take a 51 percent stake in the struggling airline, alongside a new private partner – potentially, Lufthansa, report Italian media.

The airline, founded in 1947, has been undergoing a gradual decline in the last two decades. In 2008, then PM Silvio Berlusconi staved off an attempt by Air France to buy the airline.

In 2015, Middle-Eastern airline Etihad took a 49 percent stake, famously remodelling the hostesses uniforms.

But the sartorial changes did little to quell the budget deficit: Within months of that investment, the company was losing €1.3 million per day, reports Italian daily La Stampa.

In 2017, the company went into administration, with several rescue plans having failed ever since.

"We will bring the company under the national flag, with 51 percent in Italy and with a partner that makes it fly," said Italy's Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Danilo Toninelli discussing the new plan to renationalize the airline.

Hungarian airline Wizz Air, British company EasyJet and German giant Lufthansa have all made offers for a stake in the airline, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Italy's Minister for Labour and Industry Giuseppe di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement – the major coalition partner in the current Italian government – emphasized that renationalizing Alitalia is a campaign promise he intends to fulfill.

"We wrote it clearly in the government contract and now we are following exactly that road: Neither rescue, nor survival, but a re-launch within a strategic transport plan that makes Alitalia a competitive national carrier," Di Maio told the Italian parliament.

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