Alitalia: The Fat Lady Still Hasn’t Sung?

Well, if not her, Berlusconi is still talking up a storm. The latest “deadline” is supposed to be tomorrow, Thursday, after which Alitalia will stop flying. Of course, these “deadlines” don’t have much credibility, but sooner or later there will be a real one, and this one looks to have some force behind it. As a consequence, negotiations are still going on, with Berlusconi himself quite involved in trying to cut a deal. The latest:

  • Berlusconi insists that Italy will and must have a national airline. Much as fish need bicycles, in my opinion, but to each his own… except Berlusconi, who gets some of yours, too. In any case, he doesn’t want to “talk publicly” yet, in order to keep negotiations going. He might be up to something, or his “not ready to reveal” could be like the “group of entrepreneurs” that he more or less invented during the election, only to finally twist enough arms to create the group once he’d won the election. Berlusconi continues to reaffirm that the company must remain Italian, and is willing to spend a lot of other people’s money in order to make it so. Actually, he didn’t say the second part, but it’s pretty much a given at this point.

  • Lufthansa, which had said “we’ll pass”, is apparently still interested, but with the condition that there isn’t some kind of open war between the unions and the new company. Foreign airlines have got to be a bit nervous about this whole business: the best result for them would be for the whole enterprise to fail, and thus be able to buy up airport slots, airplanes, and hire up any people worth hiring on a case-by-case basis. Still though, they’re probably still sniffing around, because were the whole thing to actually come together, the “new Alitalia” will need an international partner, and there’s likely some money to be made there.

  • In order to show that the left is just as clueless as Berlusconi, their leader Walter Veltroni sent an open letter with three ideas for what direction things ought to take:

    1. CAI, the “new Alitalia”, should move closer to meeting the unions’ demands.
    2. The government should actively seek out foreign firms, with or without the “new Alitalia”, interested in purchasing the company.
    3. The government should conclude negotiations with the union in order to make it possible for CAI or a foreign company to buy Alitalia and thus allow it to survive in some form.

    I guess they wanted to show that they were capable of “leadership” too, where leadership is defined as “willing to throw lots of other people’s money at a problem that isn’t really that much of a problem in the first place”. What they ought to be doing is to make sure that those who lose their jobs, and their families, are in some way taken care of, retrained if necessary, and otherwise helped through a tough time, rather than trying to keep Alitalia lurching along like some kind of Frankenstein monster. And while they’re at it, they should try and even out those rules so that anyone who loses their job, whether they work for a big company or a little one, gets the same treatment.

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