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ITA-Lufthansa: time passes, opportunity or risk?

The European elections could cause a further postponement beyond June 6th

There is time until 6 June 2024. By that date the offices of the European Competition Commission, led by Margaret Vestager, will decide the fate of the marriage between the German aviation group Lufthansa and the national carrier ITA Airways, controlled 100% by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). For someone, this period represents an opportunity, for others it puts the agreement at risk. Let's see why.

According to the most pessimistic, considering that the European elections are four months away, the Competition Commission will hardly get its hands on such a delicate dossier before the vote (from 6 to 9 June 2024): therefore there will be a further postponement of the Brussels decision. "A harmful anxiety of bureaucratic control", they call it, which will force the two airlines to spend further money. So much so that ITA management has not published the 2023 annual budget: which would be in the red, despite the Break-Even expectations.

The optimists' thesis is based on this point: to avoid further financial problems (the history of Alitalia teaches) the Meloni Government wants to secure the green light from Brussels by selling airport slots and long-haul routes, but between now and June it would also have all the time to backtrack. Why? Because Italy has a market potential that would guarantee "the presence of a high-level airline" that could serve 180 intercontinental destinations, "which would be impossible if ITA were part of a large group" like Lufthansa.

What everyone agrees on, or almost everyone, is the fact that "there is no industrial logic" in this postponement by Brussels. It would only be a political game, as "it involves some transfer of slots for continental routes and other easily manageable adjustments". On this chessboard there are therefore those who move the pawns to ensure that the Meloni Government holds 51% of ITA in their hands, and those who can't wait to sell it 100% so as not to make Italian taxpayers pay their debts .

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency