|by Sean O'Neill||Italy, Airlines||14|
Italian national airline Alitalia received fresh hope for survival over the weekend. The European Union has announced that it will allow airlines to put on the auction block takeoff and landing slots that they don't use or that they can't turn a profit on.
The new rules could help out Alitalia by allowing it to sell its airport slots—and perhaps even receive money for slots it has been forced to sell off in recent weeks.
The Italian government attempted to save the airline with a 300 million euro "loan." But officials from the European Union say that the loan is unfair and in violation of international agreements.
Meanwhile, there are reports that German airline Lufthansa might make an offer to buy about 49 percent of the airline. It might do so in partnership with at least one other airline, such as private Italian airline Air One. But, as of this weekend, officials from Lufthansa were saying "no comment."
While this news is promising for Alitalia, I would remain nervous about booking with them until they actually receive cash. However, officials from the airline have a different view:
Alitalia not only continues to operate normally, but, as of June 1st June, we will reintroduce a new non stop flight Los Angeles to Rome. In the meantime, the privatization process continues at Alitalia. [The airline] employs more than 17,000 people and involves many other businesses and workers in Italy. It's a strategic asset for Italy with a strong social relevance. And Italy itself remains one of the top destinations, worldwide. That explains all the talks surrounding us. Anyway, all parties involved (Unions, Board Members and Politicians) are fully committed to the success of the privatization process. Alitalia now is still controlled by the Minister of Economy of the Italian Government. It's realistic that the privatization process will be completed as soon the new Government is in place, meanwhile please continue to book and buy Alitalia.
You'll find what some of our readers had to say about Alitalia in the comments on our recent blog post about the airline.