Alitalia/union talks at an impasse, beginning of the end of operations

As of Monday the 15th, it looks as if Alitalia might begin to cease operations. Talks between the unions and the “new Alitalia” have not been going anywhere, and the airline simply does not have the cash to go on. The differences between what the unions want and what the new Alitalia is willing to offer were apparently so great that the unions are willing to “pull the trigger”.

Berlusconi has, of course, declared that the stalled negotiations are “politically motivated”, although after the mess he made of the Air France/Alitalia negotiations, one couldn’t be blamed for thinking “live by the sword, die by the sword”. Of course the unions aren’t blameless either, and one wonders what sort of future employment many of the workers think they’re going to get, sans Alitalia, and if it’s in any way comparable to what they have now. Perhaps the “new Alitalia” would even be better off hiring up people individually rather than as a union, en masse. Truth be told, that sort of outcome would have been better years ago: Alitalia goes bankrupt, and other companies rush in to fill the void, hiring up the workers at market rates.

The upshot of all this is that next week, Alitalia will start running out of money for fuel and other operational necessities, and it’s probably impossible even for Berlusconi and company to shovel more government funds into the company without finally falling afoul of the heretofore relatively toothless European Commission. Already, the situation is rapidly precipitating, with protests at various airports and canceled flights.

Perhaps the best hope for the Alitalia deal is direct intervention from “Above”. The pope, when asked to say a prayer for Alitalia prior to embarking on a flight for France, said that he’d been praying for the company for some time.

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