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ITA-Lufthansa: marriage increasingly distant

Who will put an end to the disastrous economic situation of our national airline?

By 6 June 2024, the European Competition Commission will have to rule on the agreement, signed between the German aviation group Lufthansa and the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), which provides for the privatization of 41% of the share capital of the national airline ITA Airways. The electoral tensions for the renewal of the European Parliament, the sector lobbies and the ITA's budget in the red contribute to complicating the green light.

This is the reason which, according to various industry experts, led to the lengthening of the deadline and complicated the green light from the European Competition Commission, led by Margrethe Vestager. The Antitrust Authority will have to indicate whether and under what conditions the agreement can be made. However, considering that after the elections the composition of the EU competition commission may also change, which will have to reflect the political balances that emerged in the electoral competition, a further postponement of the decision is likely.

Maybe July? Maybe August? September? Maybe. Because in addition to the possible change at the helm of the competition commission, around the ITA-Lufthansa marriage there is business interests match between competing airlines and their governments, which could bring presumed powers of influence to bear on Brussels. In all of this, the management of the Italian state airline, which the Italian Ministry of Economy currently controls 100%, is trying to protect itself in the worst possible way: by hiding company budgets from taxpayers.

Who will put an end to the disastrous economic situation of ITA Airways? Why did the airline's top management hide the official documents of the 2023 annual budget, as well as the last two quarterly reports (July-September and September December 2023)? Will ITA managers also hide the papers relating to company performance in the first three months of 2024?

Perhaps the ITA leaders will try to shift public attention to the "too harsh" remedies requested by Brussels to authorize the marriage with Lufthansa. Provided that the Germans do not get tired of the long times in Brussels, but above all do not lose faith in the ITA operation, given that in 2023 the president of the air carrier, Antonino Turicchi, had promised the achievement of a break-even budget. Instead it is almost certain that the accounts are in the red. And while competitors (Air France-KLM and the IAG Group) are making a big splash on privatizations, there is the risk that the French, English and German lobbies will weigh more heavily than the competition in Brussels. 

On the topic, see also the article published by AVIONEWS.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency