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.
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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs