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Oct 15, 2021
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Finished off the airline lockdowns, introduced by the Italian authorities one after another

The largest Italian airline Alitalia made its last flight on October 14, 2021. The company was declared bankrupt and abolished. Some of Alitalia’s assets, including some of the aircraft, were taken over by Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which was created by a government decision last October.

“Alitalia, which Italians once called freccia alata, or ‘winged arrow’ for speed, was perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of Italy abroad. – writes CNN… – When Italian families returned home from a long trip and stepped on the Alitalia plane, and the flight attendant finally greeted them with a warm buongiorno and served steaming spaghetti with tomato sauce and Milanese cutlet for lunch, it felt like returning home. Flight attendants in the 1950s wore elegant uniforms designed by the couture house Sorelle Fontana. In the years that followed, an impressive cast of Delia Biagiotti, Alberto Fabiani, Renato Balestra and even Giorgio Armani created stylish clothes and comfortable seats. Hot Italian cuisine served on board the ship has sometimes made the company a favorite among travelers from all over the world. The duty-free shop sold luxurious Italian perfumes, watches, scarves and ties. Since 1964, Alitalia has regularly served as the Pope’s official airline “

However, the fat times are over. Alitalia has been going through a crisis for a long time. According to Giovanni Orsin, Director of the School of Public Administration, University of Rome LUISS, the airline could not cope with international competition and adapt to the changes in the aviation sector. “The fall of Alitalia is the supreme symbol of Italy’s historical, inherent difficulties in the fight against globalization and growing competition, – says Giovanni Orsina. “The tourism industry has gone through a revolution while Alitalia is stuck in a dead end, held back by corporations, lobbies, trade unions and political pressure …”

Attempts by the Italian state to find investors and save the airline were unsuccessful. The last such step was taken in August 2014, when an agreement was concluded with Etihad airways (United Arab Emirates) on the sale of a 49 percent stake in an Italian airline to it. The agreement provided for a brand recapitalization totaling € 1.158 billion. However, this attempt was also unsuccessful. V Alitalia An emergency management was introduced, during which the government allocated loans to the air carrier for the continuation of its current activities in the total amount of 1.8 billion euros. Total since 1974, government maintenance costs Alitalia amounted to about 13 billion euros.

Brussels was outraged by such generosity of the Italian state. The European Commission (EC) decided that the loans provided by the government during the emergency management are illegal, as they contradict the EU rules on state aid. By decision of the EC, the state must collect this money from the airline, including interest. Brussels inflicted on the sinking Alitalia the last blow. More than 10 thousand employees of the airline will be unemployed. Some will be employed by the ITA, but the number of those who will be hired again will be cut by almost three quarters – from 10 thousand to 2.8 thousand people. Wages will also be cut. And the new company will no longer have the scale of its predecessor, its fleet will be 52 aircraft against almost 100 airliners at Alitalia.

“The aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which greatly affected the aviation industry, dealt a heavy blow to Alitalia, but the Covid-19 pandemic was the fatal blow.” – says Giovanni Orsina. Finished off the airline lockdowns, introduced by the Italian authorities one after another.

The last flight arriving at Rome Fiumicino airport from Cagliari on October 14 Alitalia was greeted with flowers, but some observers point out that now is the time not to give flowers, but to cry. The bankruptcy of the national air carrier is a wake-up call for Italy, which, like the rest of Europe, is in crisis. “At the beginning of 2020, Italy had a debt of 2.4 trillion euros, – writes the Finnish edition of HBL. At the end of this year, they are estimated at 2.6 billion, or about 155 percent of GDP. Interest costs exceed SEK 50 billion a year, and Italy’s budget is underfunded by 11 percent. ”

Even before the start of the coronavirus epic, Italy had the largest external debt in the European Union after Greece in relation to GDP. The current economic downturn will push Italy even lower.

The economic performance has now fallen compared to the period before the European Monetary Union (euro area) was established in 1999. This means that Italy acquired the common European currency at the cost of a loss of wealth. “This crisis completely negates the modest growth of the Italian economy over the past decades and throws the country back into the past century.”, Says the German Welt.

“So far, the bankruptcy of Italy is not threatened, since the European Central Bank is buying up Italian Eurobonds,” – says Eleanor Poli from the Institute of International Relations in Rome, but the Italian economy, she believes, “In a disastrous state”… This is especially true in the south of the country.

“Italy is a bomb in the heart of Europe, and a sad future awaits it,” – the American agency Bloomberg prophesied back in October last year. It seems that this future is already coming.

Main photo: REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

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