September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Air France-KLM”s bid to buy the stricken Italian flag carrier Alitalia has been backed by the Italian government.
The two airlines will now begin two months of exclusive talks regarding the takeover.
”I expressed a favourable opinion on the launching of exclusive negotiations between Alitalia and Air France-KLM,” said Italy”s finance minister Tommaso Padoa-Shioppa.
”We are convinced that the indication given by Alitalia”s board is the right one.”
Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, responded saying: ”We are very satisfied with this decision, which represents a key stage in the process, and we are committed to rapidly reaching a solid agreement that paves the way to the profitable growth of Alitalia.”
The contest to acquire the state”s 49% share was a close-run affair between the Franco-Dutch carrier and the Italian low-cost airline Air One, but following numerous meetings Alitalia”s board announced in favour of Air France”s bid: ”The business plan presented by Air France-KLM has been considered highly credible and appropriate to address the strategic, industrial and financial issues of Alitalia,” anncounced the board in a statement. ”The proposal would set the basis for a successful and sustainable relaunch of the company in the long term, ensuring improvements in the quality of services to the customers and of the operating performances.”
The board said Air France”s financial offer was the most appealing ” Alitalia is ”1.2bn ($1.7bn) in debt and losing ”1m ($1.5m) every day ” and expects ”6.5bn ($9.5bn) of investment for fleet renewals and service upgrades.
After the board”s announcement, Spinetta said: ”We are delighted to have had our plan accepted as the best for the future of Alitalia. Our aim is that Alitalia shares the benefits of the profitable growth strategy successfully implemented by Air France-KLM.
”Within the enlarged airline group, Alitalia will be in a position to offer its customers an unparalleled choice of frequencies and destinations in Europe and the rest of the world. The reputation of the Alitalia brand, key asset for the whole group, will be developed in Italy and abroad through the investments planned in the airline”s products and services, as much on the ground as on board.”
When Air France bought KLM in 2004 there were extensive guarantees and protection granted to the Dutch state and other interest groups, and it appears the Alitalia board expects a similar approach ” its statement said the French carrier ”explicitly states its willingness to undertake commitments towards the Italian State concerning the safeguard and value enhancing of Alitalia”s brand, logo, and livery with an equal standing to the two other companies of the group”, and the ”preservation of an adequate coverage of the Italian market”.
It is also thought by some to be a bad time for a takeover deal involving such an ailing company, with the International Air Transport Association warning of a downturn in international airlines” operating margins this year due in part to soaring fuel prices.