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Italy’s New Airline Is Giving Itself a Year to Find a Partner - BLOOMBERG

OCTOBER 16, 2021

BY  Daniele Lepido and Alberto BrambillaBloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- Italia Trasporto Aereo, the state-owned successor to Alitalia, is positioning itself for a partnership with a major airline that could come as soon as the end of next year, according to Chairman Alfredo Altavilla.

The new airline, which started operations on Friday after its predecessor shut down, is too small to survive as a standalone company, Altavilla said in an interview. It is being managed in a way that will make it attractive for one of the large airline groups, whether in Europe or another region like the U.S., he said. 

“I’m looking for a deal to be completed by the end of 2022,” Altavilla said. “I certainly don’t want to go beyond that.”

A deal has been part of the plan since he was appointed to lead ITA in June by Mario Draghi’s government, according to the 58-year-old executive, once a top aide to former Fiat Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne.

The carrier reached an outline agreement to buy new Airbus SE aircraft last month and agreed late Thursday to purchase the Alitalia name, ensuring it will have global brand recognition. 

Yet it faces vicious competition from discounters such as Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc on domestic and regional routes, while major airlines in Europe and the U.S. dominate the profitable trans-Atlantic routes.

“It was crystal clear to me that this company can’t survive standalone, even if all the stars were to align for a tremendous rebound in the travel market,” Altavilla said. “Size does matter today and is going to matter more and more going forward.”

Altavilla said he’s been approached by all the major carriers in Europe and the U.S. Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Ed Bastian said this month that discussions are underway over a possible alliance.  


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