Ryanair tries to by Air Italy in a battle against time. The Italian government is concerned about the workforce. - Dispatch Weekly

February 13, 2020 - Reading time: 3 minutes

It is a race against time the one put in place by the government to try to avoid the liquidation procedure and prolong the operation of the airline Air Italy, born from the ashes of Meridiana with the support of Alisarda and Qatar Airways. The Minister Paola De Micheli, in a tight circle, met the two liquidators of the company Franco Maurizio Lagro and Enrico Laghi (now under investigation in the Alitalia investigation) to express the “strong irritation” of the government for the way the game was managed and for the lack of involvement of the institutions.

For the MIT the priority is the protection of 1450 jobs – about a thousand in Malpensa and 550 in Sardinia – and for this reason, the Minister has offered the representatives of the company various alternatives to liquidation, but the road seems to be uphill: 2019 closed with an estimated loss of about 230 million euros, 79% of the expected turnover. In the meantime, however, there are already those who are ready to come forward: Ryanair.

Always a direct competitor of the then Meridiana on domestic routes in airports considered “minor”, now the Irish low-cost company could decide to propose the liquidators already in the next few hours when the chief commercial officer David O’Brien and the head of sales&marketing Chiara Ravara will be in Milan to reveal their moves.

For the low-cost carrier, this would not be the first time for a low-cost carrier, given the partnership proposal submitted to Alitalia for short-haul flights. Meanwhile, EasyJet has made a fixed fare available to the company’s passengers. Another possible exit strategy has been hypothesized in Sardinia: the Region, through the financial company, could enter the Air Italy’s corporate structure and thus save jobs and flights to and from the island, in particular for the next summer season, which risks remaining without connections in the most coveted part of the Sardinian territory: Gallura.

A move also in anticipation of the new regime of territorial air continuity that the Council led by Christian Solinas is discussing with Brussels in these days. The “exploratory” proposal comes from the Pd in the Regional Council that looks at the model already adopted by Corsica.

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In the meantime, work is being done on the employment emergency and for this very reason the government has reconvened the liquidators, trade unions and representatives of Sardinia and Lombardy, for a further study of the proposals put forward by Minister De Micheli who, faced with the corporate crisis in the aviation sector, announced her intention to “start in February, in collaboration with Enac, the definition of a new Airport Plan” and to “review the rules of air transport”. “We will put in place an instrument to protect the productive activities related to Air Italy and to support the employment of workers,” said Alessandra Todde, undersecretary at Mise, while the Sardinian Region, after the initial “dismay” and “disbelief”, is pressing the shareholders: “the private sector must do its part and not betray decades of friendship with Sardinia.

The fear of national and regional institutions is that of being faced with a new “very serious social and economic emergency”. The workers have already organised themselves with meetings in Malpensa and Olbia. And they are already thinking about the mobilization waiting for the national strike of the whole sector on February 25th.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.