Lufthansa is in talks with ALITALIA about possible collaboration and investment. According to a report from Italy’s Il Messaggero (18 October 2016), the German carrier will meet with both ALITALIA and Etihad management to discuss how the Lufthansa Group will be involved.
Italy’s national carrier is still struggling even with Etihad’s 49% stake. The carrier is losing upwards of EUR 500 million per day. In recent weeks, ALITALIA staff have held strikes, protesting at further cuts to benefits and conditions under Etihad’s guidance. The Etihad Group CEO has reportedly threatened the Italian Governent that it would the 49% stake in ALITALIA, alleging the Italian Government has “not kept its promises”. Under Etihad’s “Re-imagined” style turn around plan, ALITALIA has significantly expanded its long haul network, changed livery, new uniforms and completely rebranded. These have been fantastic initiatives and have no doubt improved ALITALIA’s service offering. Are these enough for it to survive?
The “white knight” may in fact be the Lufthansa Group. Italy is one of Lufthansa’s most important markets and it has constantly kept a close watch on ALITALIA for the past eight years. Austrian Airlines and Swiss, both 100% subsidiaries of the Lufthansa Group are doing well under the German carrier’s guidance. Will they have the effect on ALITALIA? That remains to be seen.
Meetings will take place over the next few days with further details to be revealed soon. Sources from the Italian airline indicate that Etihad may still be involved with ALITALIA with the addition of Lufthansa collaborating.