Alitalia rescue in jeopardy as easyJet pulls out of negotiations

©easyJet

Having previously been involved in discussions with Italian state rail operator Ferrovie dello Stata, and U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines with a view to creating a consortium ‘rebranding’ of the stricken flag-carrying Italian airline, easyJet announced Monday, March 18, that it is no longer involved in any of the negotiations. Ferrovie dello Strato was conducting negotiations with regard to Alitalia’s affairs.

“Following discussions with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane and Delta Air Lines about forming a consortium to explore options for the future operations of Alitalia, easyJet has taken the decision to withdraw from the process,” said the airline, adding that it remained committed to operations in Italy from its bases in Milan, Naples and Venice.

Alitalia instigated bankruptcy proceedings after employees voted against cost-cutting measures, after which the Italian government put the airline up for sale. The carrier’s problems were further exacerbated when 49 percent stakeholder Etihad Airways withdrew its investment.

The carrier has continued to operate only through the fact the Italian government keeps extending the deadline to pay back a €900 million (US$1.2 billion) loan, currently extended to June 2019. However, the Italian airline could face a renewed and intensified investigation by the European Commission, who believe the magnitude of Alitalia’s never-ending money-pit, combined with deadline extensions, may constitute illegal state aid.

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