British Airways and Lufthansa have both said they are closely monitoring Italy’s plans to seek a foreign investor for bankrupt Alitalia, indicating Air France-KLM Group may face a challenge should it bid for a stake.Lufthansa has described the Italian market as “interesting”, while BA has “people are aware of the situation and are in touch”. Neither would specify if an offer for the bankrupt Italian national carrier is likely.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last week said that a foreign partner will be able to take a minority holding once Alitalia is sold to Italian investors, with unprofitable parts of the company liquidated and up to 7,000 workers axed.
Corrado Passera, the CEO of the carrier’s sale adviser Intesa Sanpaolo, said the bank had received a letter from Air France-KLM acknowledging the rescue plan and its willingness to take a stake.
Smaller Italian carrier Air One will be folded into the restructured airline, which is expected to focus on short routes and will operate with a smaller fleet and about 40 percent fewer employees.
However one of the backers of Alitaia has described allowing Air France-KLM to take a stake in a restructured Alitalia as a “fundamental mistake”.
Gianluigi Aponte told the daily Il Sole-24 Ore that for the new Alitalia “to have a competitor as a shareholder would be a fundamental mistake.
“Personally, I am against the idea of having another airline as a shareholder,” said Aponte, a shipowner who has stepped in with other leading industry and finance figures to support the Alitalia rescue plan.