Alitalia: All Aboard?

The latest this weekend was the news that the pilots’ union signed up, leaving only the flight attendants to sign the agreement, which at this point seems highly likely (Update: they signed). The only big question left is: who will be the foreign partner in the deal, Lufthansa or Air France?

So it looks as if all the drama and many “deadlines” were simply part of a high-stakes game of chicken. Now that an agreement has been reached, everyone can get back to the real business of Alitalia: milking Italian taxpayers.

What is the bill going to look like?

  • All of Alitalia’s debts, which are extensive. The good bits go to the wealthy “entrepreneurs” behind CAI, the “new Alitalia”.

  • A monopoly on the lucrative Milano-Rome route, since Air One, Alitalia’s only main competitor, is part of the deal. The government, to help facilitate the deal, has agreed to suspend anti trust laws for the immediate future.

  • I haven’t found an authoritative source, but reports are that some of the people who will be let go will get up to six years of pay. I’m all for the government helping people out of a tight spot, but in a country where many people in their late 20ies or early 30ies work for a pittance (salaries as low as 800 euro a month or 15000 dollars a year, for qualified, college educated workers are not unheard of), and receive nothing if they are let go, that kind of spending on unproductive workers is a slap in the face.

Worst of all, the whole thing is highly indicative of just how things are run in Italy, and that absolutely nothing has changed or improved. Italy has a great deal of talent and resources to offer the world, and millions of intelligent, hard working, honest people. However, once again, they are overshadowed by sleazy politicians, entrepreneurs who make money through dirty politics deals rather than genuine innovation, and intransigent unions who pretend to speak for “the workers”, but are in reality a privileged few who are afraid of real meritocracy.

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