October 28, 2013
The main unions representing Alitalia cabin crew and pilots have called a four-hour strike for Oct. 29 to protest management’s failure to provide details on its strategy to avoid bankruptcy, and are threatening to stage another three work stoppages if the airline fails to develop a credible restructuring plan.
Tomorrow’s strike will start at 10:00 am, and Alitalia and its low-cost subsidiary Air One say they have set up “preventive measures to reduce the inconvenience to passengers.” The industrial action will not affect Alitalia’s intercontinental flights.
The planned strikes, which could total up to 48 hr., are bad news for the troubled Italian carrier, which is running out of cash and has called on shareholders and creditors to provide €500 million ($690 million) in fresh funds.
At an extraordinary shareholders meeting on Oct. 14, investors agreed in principle to €300 million in new capital, but they have until Nov. 16 to decide if they will exercise their option on taking the new shares.
Fondiaria-SAI, which now has 4.4% stake, has indicated it will not subscribe to the capital increase, whereas Atlantia (which holds 8%) and holding company IMMSI (7.1%) would be willing to provide more capital. Bank Intesa Sanpaolo has confirmed that it will subscribe to its quota of the proposed capital increase, or €26 million. In addition, the bank will underwrite up to €50 million of any unsubscribed shares and this amount will be advanced to Alitalia.
Alitalia’s largest shareholder, Air France-KLM, has yet to commit to the new share issue, but the group’s Chairman and CEO Alexandre de Juniac has stated that participation will not be unconditional. Air France-KLM, which owns 25% of its Italian SkyTeam partner, is willing to increase its shareholding to more than 50%, but Alitalia first has to have a comprehensive recovery plan in place and find an acceptable solution for its €1 billion in debt, an industry source tells Aviation Week.
The Franco-Dutch group also apparently takes issue with the high rates Alitalia is paying for leased aircraft in its fleet and the lack of a proper revenue management system, which the source describes as “disastrous” and “totally inept.” The high lease rates are a legacy of the merger of the “old” Alitalia—in bankruptcy at that time—with Air One five years ago. Air One held large orders for Airbus A320s and A330s at the time of the merger and the “new” Alitalia” is leasing several—if not the majority of these aircraft since the merger—from AP Fleet, the Irish company of Air One’s founder and former owner Carlo Toto.
If these conditions are not met, Air France-KLM is willing to let its stake dilute to 11%, the source added.