It appears as if the days of Alitalia are almost over.
Long steeped with financial trouble, Italy’s national airline has slowly been edging down the slippery slope towards bankruptcy. One could blame the quality of their aircraft or the repeated tardiness of their flights or condition of their hub airport, Rome‘s Fiumicino for their slow spiral downward, but the fact of the matter is, they were just a poorly done airline. Most of the time when I fly on a foreign carrier I’m generally pleased by its quality over my domestic carriers — little things that make the airline “European” or pleasant. But on my last flight between Rome and Paris last month I was unimpressed. The equipment was outdated, the service mediocre and the aircraft late.
Perhaps Italians, as well, have lost faith in their maternal airline. As of St. Patrick’s Day, the nation’s government approved their acquisition by Air France/KLM at a paltry 1:160 share ratio, or for about 15¢ a share. It was a desperate, terminal move to save the airline, but may ultimately guarantee their future.
The question that now remains is whether Alitalia will keep its branding and employees or be completely swallowed by Air France. If the acquisition is simple, many travelers may never know the difference between the old and new airline. But if the French decide to refurbish the entire company, there may be some hiccups in service.
Alitalia seeks approval from the new incoming government and the unions before finalizing the deal — expect that to happen in the next few weeks and more news to surface then.