Lufthansa, Ryanair race to strip Alitalia assets


ROME - Thirty two contenders are in the running for the bankrupt airline Alitalia’s assets, notably German giant Lufthansa and budget airline Ryanair, industry sources say. 

 One of Alitalia’s three commissioners, Stefano Paleari, has commented: “The work has just begun. There are 32 expressions of interest that we are opening, assessing and classifying.” He has not released any details about the potential buyers. 

 This figure is certainly higher than expected, according to President of ENAC (Ente nazionale per l'aviazione civile, or the Italian Civil Aviation Authority), Vito Riggio. However, the number could fall, given that they are officially “non-binding statements of interest”.

 In just 24 hours, Ryanair and Lufthansa have both confirmed that they have submitted proposals to Alitalia for some of the Italian airline’s assets. However, neither party want the entire company. 

 Irish low-cost airline Ryanair’s spokesman John Alborante confirmed to Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that they have proposed “a feeder offer for the long haul flights of Alitalia,” explaining that “the details of the offer will be announced by the administrators. We have also spoken to the government, and we have said that we are ready to put forward 20 aircraft if Alitalia cuts its routes.”

 When speaking to Bloomberg, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr commented: “Italy is a very important market for us for long haul services, we are looking very closely at the opportunities that are emerging.” Of particular interest are “the fleet and slots in case they are put up for sale”.

 Other potential purchasers include Delta Air lines, Hainan Airlines, Air China, Air France, Turkish Airlines, and Ethiad Airways, who bought a 49% stake of the Italian company in 2014 and are currently the biggest single shareholder. The latter have highlighted to Bloomberg the “strong ties” between the two companies and consider themselves “open to exploring all options to maintain and potentially deepen those ties for mutual benefit”.

 The EU Commission is expected to publish a package of measures dedicated to aviation on Thursday; “Open and Connected Aviation”.