SkyTeam member and Delta partner Alitalia has been a basket case for years. It’s poorly run, and indeed has largely been run for the benefit of its unions with the help of the Italian government.
One financial backer after another has lost their investment. Air France walked away, and then Etihad came in to subsidize the carrier.
Interestingly, Delta had no problem with these subsidies.
- Delta had a huge problem with Etihad flying to the U.S. yet no problem with Etihad flying to the U.S. through control of Alitalia.
- Delta had a huge problem with Emirates flying transatlantic routes like New York – Athens and Milan yet no problem with Gulf carrier supporting Alitalia’s transatlantic routes.
- They had a huge problem with Qatar-supported Air Italy flying from Italy to the U.S., they had no problem with Alitalia being subsidized.
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Etihad finally lost its appetite for subsidy. The Italian government took over funding the carrier, and started looking for a buyer. At one point it looked like Delta, which had had a transatlantic revenue-sharing joint venture with Altialia (so was happy to see a Gulf carrier’s subsidies), would take over management of the airline. So far Delta has been unwilling to do that deal.
Lufthansa has been sniffing around Alitalia. They used to have an Italian subsidiary, Lufthansa Italia, based in Milan from 2009 to 2011.
However the losses are staggering, and there’s little expectation that the Italian government will support change at the airline (or if a current government lent its support, that the next government sure to follow quickly would do so as well).
Indeed the losses have been revealed to be 2 million euros per day.
Alitalia loses as much as 2 million euros ($2 million) a day, Italy’s Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli said on Thursday, clarifying a comment he had made at a parliamentary committee the day before.
The estimate lays bare the challenge facing the airline’s new temporary administrator, who was been appointed earlier this month to cut costs and find a buyer for Alitalia after a consortium of potential rescuers backtracked.
The government is anxious to find its next victim to take over Alitalia. Who will take the bait?