Alitalia and Etihad

In the past I have written a lot about Alitalia, Italy’s “national” airline:

It’s emblematic of the country in more ways than one, and the inability to resolve the problem one way or the other is like a lot of things here.  Rather than letting the thing finally fail and seeing what takes its place, the politicians have continued to prop it up, and the airline dutifully continues to lose money and kind of stumble along.  Most recently, someone had the bright idea of convincing Poste Italiane, the Italian postal service, to invest in Alitalia.  As someone said “it’s a great fit – they’re both often late and lose your stuff”.

The latest twist in the tale involves Etihad, an airline from the United Arab Emirates.  They are ready to close on a deal that would see them buying 49% of a slimmed down Alitalia and investing a bundle of money in the process.  Everyone has known for years that this slimming down process has needed to happen, but no one has mustered the political will.  It’s not hard to see why: the unions are raising a massive stink.  The latest tactic is to let travellers’ luggage pile up in Rome’s airport, as a way of protesting the reduction in headcount that’s part of the deal.

Pictures of the stacked luggage appear here: 

It’s difficult to think of a form of protest that would antagonize the flying public more.

Despite the troubles, the deal is apparently set to close on Friday or soon thereafter.  After that, we can only wait and see.  Kind of like what happens when Alitalia has your luggage, or at least claims they do.

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