12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
ALITALIA, which has made a loss in 10 of the last eleven years, has been saved by the European Commission with the approval of a E400m (”266m) rescue package from the Italian government for the national airline. However, Italy also has to submit either an Alitalia rescue or liquidation plan to the Commission within six months with the loan incurring market interest rates and repaid within a year. In an unprecedented outburst British Airways had called on the European Commission to reject the rescue package. EU state aid law says no rescue or restructuring aid can be given if a company has already received aid within ten years unless there are ”exceptional or unforeseeable” circumstances. BA points out that Alitalia was given L2750bn (E1.4bn ” ”930bn) for a restructuring plan completed in December 2000.
It notes that Alitalia recently increased capacity from Malpensa airport Milan by 16% and from Fiumicino Rome by 13% ” one of the highest increases in the industry; announced plans for further substantial expansion of capacity, particularly on its long haul network and routes into the UK; has taken delivery of the first of six new Embraer 170 jets and is reported to be adding three new Boeing 767s next year plus two Boeing 777s in 2006 as part of growth in its long haul operations; bought Gandalf Airlines and 135 slots for E7m (”4.7m). ”These are not the actions of an airline going bust”, said British Airways director of government and industry affairs Andrew Cahn. ”If they were, they would be cutting back not expanding; they would be rationalising their network and reducing their fleet, not growing it”. BA has asked the Commission to ensure Alitalia is not permitted to expand on any long haul routes or add any new destinations. Separately easyJet is also doing its bit for fair competition and says it is going to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg to try and nullify the Alitalia ” Air France alliance. Sadly their chances must be as good as British Airways. However at the end of the day market forces will prevail.