Alitalia has placed advertisements in four newspapers today desperately seeking potential buyers for all or any parts of its assets.
The move comes after the consortium CAI, led by Piaggio Chairman Roberto Colaninno, made official yesterday a decision made public last week to withdraw its takeover offer.The announcements in the Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera, il Sole-24 Ore and la Repubblica, as well as the London-based Financial Times said Alitalia is seeking “whoever might be able to guarantee the continuity, in the medium term, of the transportation service ... to submit its expression of interest.”
CAI withdrawal was the third failed attempt to sell Alitalia in under two years as two successive governments have moved to keep a four-year-old promise to the European Union to privatize the flagship carrier.
Unless a new buyer steps in, the airline faces closure as early as this week and by 1 October at the latest.
“I would say that we have until the end of the week,” administrator Augusto Fantozzi told reporters in Rome on Monday. “Probably we will have time until next Tuesday, which means in effect that, as of today, Sept. 30th is the last day possible” of operation.
He acknowledged that the airline’s chances for survival looked bleak.
“There are no prospects for a rescue in a reasonable time,” Fantozzi told reporters.
The group offered to plough US$1.4 billion into the bankrupt airline, sell off unprofitable assets and merge the rest with Italy’s No. 2 carrier Air One. However it pulled out of discussions after six out of nine unions rejected its proposals.
These would have led to around 3,000 job cuts and employees forced to work more hours for the same pay. Unions argued that the job cuts were higher because thousands of part-time and temporary workers will be cut. The unions, representing most of the 7,000 pilots and cabin crew, continued to seek concessions until a deadline for a decision expired yesterday.
Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi repeated Monday that all major European carriers who could be potential buyers have been solicited—and have said thanks, but no thanks.
Fantozzi told reporters that this month’s payroll, due Sept. 27, will use up much of what little cash Alitalia has left.