Reuters is reporting that Delta has submitted a binding offer for Alitalia.
- They are likely vying against Italy’s state-owned railroad
- easyJet has expressed interest though likely has not submitted a binding offer
Details of the proposed offer haven’t been disclosed. The Italian government has been expected to take a stake in the carrier. It’s not been revealed who else would own pieces of the airline under the proposed deal.
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Alitalia is in the midst of restructuring, since Etihad pulled the plug and stopped subsidizing the Italian flag carrier. Before Etihad pumped money in, Air France lost their shirt on the carrier.
Delta had opposed Etihad’s flying to the U.S., but favored Etihad’s flying to the U.S. through Alitalia, since Delta took a chunk of that revenue as part of an anti-trust immunized joint venture.
Delta has been a member of a transatlantic joint venture which has included Alitalia, Air France, and KLM. In July Delta filed for an amended joint venture that included Air France, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic but not Alitalia. A deal for Alitalia would presumably change that approach.
Alitalia has been getting injections of cash from the Italian government and any deal would presumably have the government absorbing debts rather than Delta doing so. Delta was against subsidies before they were for them.
Delta has made strategic investments in carriers around the world like Aeromexico, Virgin Atlantic, China Eastern, and Gol. The U.S. market is fairly mature and the drive has been for capacity discipline rather than growth, yet there are still growth opportunities around the world. Alitalia has been a siren song for airline suitors, one that never works out because of the country’s unions and because constantly changing Italian governments don’t keep promises made to acquiring carriers.