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Alitalia airline will remain Italian

Jan 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Italian News

Alitalia remains Italian, Air France-Klm says

The partnership agreement between Alitalia and Air France-KLM will ensure that the Italian carrier will remain ‘Italian’, the chairman of the Franco-Dutch airline said.

The now private Alitalia accepted an offer from Air France-KLM to buy a 25% stake in the now-private Italian carrier, Jean-Cyril Spinetta explained that the alliance between the two airlines ”is based on a full respect of the Italian nature” of Alitalia.  The relationship between Air France-KLM and Alitalia, he explained, will be the same as that between Air France and KLM.

Ensuring that Alitalia remained Italian was one of the reasons why center-right parties in Italy’s current government rejected Air France-KLM’s offer for the Italian carrier last spring, before the elections which returned Premier Silvio Berlusconi to power.

Looking at the partnership’s future, Spinetta said his company expected a ”high return” on its investment in Alitalia as did Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI), the Italian investor group which paid close to 1.1 billion euros for the Italian carrier’s flight operations and then sold 25% to Air France-KLM.

Spinetta also said that his company has already chosen its three members for Alitalia’s future 19-member board and decided who will have the two out of nine seats it will have on the board’s executive committee, which will be responsible for strategic decisions.  He said he would not make the names public until first notifying Alitalia’s management ”out of common courtesy”.  However, he did not rule out that one will be Dutch. KLM had been set to become Alitalia’s partner in 2001 but the alliance broke down and the Italian carrier then sought to ally with Air France, which later acquired a 2% stake in the Italian carrier.

Air France and KLM merged in 2004 to become Europe’s biggest airline and the largest in the world for operating revenues.

Because of a four-year lock-up clause in CAI’s statute, Air France-KLM can only expand its stake in Alitalia if there is a rights issue to increase the airline’s capital or if the company is listed on the stock market, two possibilities which Spinetta said he did not see taking place in the near future.  ”It’s much too early to think or even consider this,” he explained.

Alitalia’s first flights as a private airline took off on Tuesday, 13 January 2009

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