News / Europe

    Italy considering Alitalia rescue as creditors circle

    Alitalia planes ready to take off at Linate airport in Milan, Italy, Oct. 10 ,2013.
    Alitalia planes ready to take off at Linate airport in Milan, Italy, Oct. 10 ,2013.
    Reuters
    The Italian government is considering joining a 500-million euro ($676 million) rescue plan for Alitalia after unions warned the national airline risked defaulting within days and creditor Eni  threatened to stop supplying fuel.
     
    Sources close to the situation said on Thursday that under the plan the government could inject 150 million euros into the airline, the same amount as existing shareholders, while banks would provide an additional 200 million euros in new loans.
     
    The government made its support conditional on major change at the troubled carrier, which has not turned in a profit since 2002 and is struggling to keep up payments on one billion euros of debt, the sources told Reuters.
     
    “It's a bridging solution to guarantee the financial survival of the company but it depends on a strong change in the way the company is run,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
     
    The source said the government was still pinning its longer-term hopes on a strategic partnership between Alitalia and Air France-KLM, which is the Italian carrier's top shareholder with a 25 percent stake.
     
    Under the proposed rescue plan, the government would subscribe to Alitalia's capital increase with 75 million euros through the national post office, Poste Italiane.
     
    The rest of the state help would come in the form of credit guarantees, the sources said, adding the aim was to present a deal to Alitalia's board at a meeting on Friday.
     
    The board meeting had been scheduled for Thursday but was postponed, giving Prime Minister Enrico Letta's government, itself cash-strapped, longer to come up with an interim solution.
     
    Alitalia and Poste Italiane were not available for comment.
     
    Ministers have approached several state companies in the past few weeks, including railway operator Ferrovie dello Stato, trying to persuade them to stump up funding to keep Alitalia flying. After a meeting with executives, trade unions said on Wednesday the airline risked default “within days”.
     
    Letta is loath to see another national asset fail or be sold to a foreign rival without guarantees on jobs. Spain's Telefonica recently did a deal to take over the controlling company behind Telecom Italia.
     
    The big question is whether Alitalia's largest shareholder, Air France-KLM, will raise its 25 percent stake.
     
    That airline, in the middle of a restructuring itself, was barred from a full takeover in late 2008 by then prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who instead strung together a disparate group of 21 investors including retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo  and road operator Atlantia.
     
    Since then, Alitalia has lost nearly 700,000 euros a day and become a symbol of Italy's economic malaise, hampered by mismanagement and political meddling.
     
    Now the government and Alitalia's shareholders are ready to let Air France up its stake and possibly even take over the group, but there is no agreement with the Franco-Dutch carrier over financial commitments and business strategy.
     
    Alitalia, which according to analysts needs at least 10 million euros a day to keep its aircraft flying, said on Sept. 26 that it had total available cash of 128 million euros, including unused credit facilities.
     
    A source close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that Eni would stop supplying fuel to Alitalia beyond Saturday if the airline cannot ensure business continuity.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.