Alitalia, the Italian airline, has gone into emergency administration after workers refused workplace reforms to cut costs. The Italian government is giving the airline a loan on commercial terms. The finance minster told me he was optimistic a solution would be found: I don’t know why. It was only 2 ½ years ago that the last restructuring took place when Etihad bought 49% of the airline and we were told a new chapter was beginning.
It gives me no pleasure to say this. But, Alitalia should be allowed to go the way of all airlines that can’t survive without handouts: Out of business. For years, Alitalia has lost money, had a terrible reputation for service and reliability, while its domestic and European business has been stolen by low cost carriers like Ryanair.
If Alitalia ceased to fly, others would come in and pick up the slack. That’s the case with other European carriers already. Germany’s Lufthansa owns or partly owns all three neighboring airlines — Swiss, Austrian and Brussels. Air France/KLM is owned by a holding company. British Airways & Aer Lingus are part of a Spanish-registered company.
Etihad’s folly was the last gasp for Alitalia. Now the market should be allowed to do its work.