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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Alitalia. Who wouldn't enjoy closing the company?

Union is strength

The events and the various declarations of the last weeks and the last few days are clearly demonstrating the state of difficulty of Alitalia as regards the extraordinary administration and the negotiations, which are carrying out Ferrovie dello Stato and the Minister of Economic Development Luigi Di Maio in order to identify the industrial partners to be involved in the relaunch operation. The situation in the last week has become neurotic and increasingly intricate despite the fact that even today Di Maio has "reassured" the spirits by explaining that "the Government has several solutions available and will go ahead anyway". However, two things are missing: a partner (or more than one) willing to take 40-45% of the newco alongside Ferrovie dello Stato, MEF (Ministry of Economy and Finance) and Delta Air Lines; unity of intentions of workers, trade unions and, in general, of Italy.

On the first point the problem seems to be mainly linked to Atlantia because the Benetton Group will probably have placed some conditions on the Government to "guarantee" the investment, such as a presumptive one: the stop to attacks by members of the M5S Movement; the non-revocation of the concessions to Autostrade per l'Italia; the go-ahead for the increase in motorway tariffs; and in particular the maintenance of the current system of program contracts in derogation until 2044, with the disappearance of the ventilated modifications by the Transport Regulation Authority (ART). In exchange Atlantia -which also controls Aeroporti di Roma (AdR)- could presumably make an investment on the plate to cover up to around 30% of Alitalia's shares and it could also be committed to modify the project to expand the Rome-Fiumicino airport, although this will probably happen regardless of participation in the airline.

Not investing in Alitalia, however, could also have repercussions in terms of image, because in the case of liquidation the Government could speciously put the blame on Atlantia on the media level.

On the point of the absence of a policy and a unitary push instead, the situation is decidedly more complicated. The proof is that despite the obvious and concrete risk of a new "failure", the nearly 12,000 Alitalia employees who risk their jobs have never taken to the streets to protest and to ask the Government to find a lasting solution over time and effective. The less public opinion is on the side of Alitalia, indeed most Italians almost hope that this fails so as to "get rid" of this "burden" for the State.

A hypothesis that would be avoided also because the economic-social cost to be paid would be very high as well as the direct repercussions (unemployment and other subsidies) and indirect (reduction of consumption, lower tax revenue) on state finances, airport managers and other companies that somehow are connected to Alitalia. Furthermore, the bankruptcy or the last-minute government bailout of the carrier would be a cost even for the Italians themselves "cheering" for the closure, also because all the taxpayers who would be expected to increase -presumably- would pay.

It would perhaps be the case, and the moment, that the Italians united so that this does not happen in the interest of the national economy.

M/A - 1221201

© AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency Srl