It’s back to the brink for Alitalia.
The perennially troubled Italian carrier again finds itself starting down the possibility of collapse, a scenario the airline already has survived a surprising number times during the past two decades.
Altialia’s latest crisis came after workers voted against a turnaround plan that would have slashed costs by more than $1 billion while trimming about 1,000 jobs. Alitalia’s management said the cuts were needed to stay solvent, and the company followed the move by declaring bankruptcy (yet again) on Tuesday.
“Now, with little cash left, the Italian carrier faces a series of unpalatable choices,” writes The Wall Street Journal. “It could sell out to a larger rival, either as a whole or split into parts. But there appears to be little appetite among competitors for the long-troubled airline.”
For now, the Italian government will give Alitalia a bridge loan worth €600 million (about $650 million) that will keep the carrier flying while a new buyer is sought, according to The Associated Press.
The Journal says analysts estimate that Alitalia has already received a whopping €10 billion in taxpayer money to keep it going during previous crises the past two decades. Since its one of its most notable rescues in 2008, Alitalia has gone on to lose an additional €3 billion, adds Bloomberg News.
Will new buyers step up to try yet another turnaround plan for Alitalia? That will be a closely watched question, though there is skepticism that anyone will be able to bring Alitalia into the black.
The latest turnaround plan for Alitalia came in 2014 when Gulf carrier Etihad bought a 49% stake in the carrier, raising hopes that the Abu Dhabi airline known for its high-end service might be able to finally fix what ailed Alitalia.
ARCHIVES: Gulf carrier Etihad to ‘reboot’ Italy’s ailing Alitalia (story continues below)
But Alitalia’s losses have continued, exacerbated by increasing competition from low-cost rivals like Ryanair and easyJet in Italian markets.
Etihad Aviation Group CEO James Hogan said in a statement to AP that Alitalia needs “fundamental and far-reaching restructuring to survive.” The news agency adds that Hogan “made clear (Etihad) is not prepared to continue pumping money into the Italian company.”