Etihad disappointed by rejection of Alitalia rescue plan

26 April 2017

Bankruptcy proceedings to begin

Alitalia minority shareholder Etihad Airways has said the employee union’s rejection of the latest rescue deal for the Italian airline to avoid bankruptcy means all parties – including employees, customers and shareholders – will lose out.

The offer includes hundreds of job cuts and pay reductions aimed at saving costs to allow the airline’s €2bn (2.19bn) recapitalisation plan to work.

James Hogan, the outgoing president and CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, and vice-chairman of Alitalia, said the Abu Dhabi-based firm deeply regrets the Alitalia staff vote outcome.

“Alitalia’s shareholders, including Etihad Airways, have provided vast amounts of financial and commercial support during the past three years,” Hogan said in a statement. “The rejection of this agreement in the staff ballot is deeply disappointing.”

Etihad acquired a 49 per cent stake in the embattled airline in 2014. The airline, along with other shareholders, provided the $2.2bn package to fund Alitalia’s five-year business plan under a condition where a concerted effort would be made by all interested parties, including the unions.

“As a minority shareholder in Alitalia, we support the board’s decision to convene a shareholder’s meeting on 27 April, to start preparing the procedures provided by the law,” Hogan said.

The “legal procedures” entail putting the airline under special administration as bankruptcy proceedings begin.

In 2008, Alitalia was put into bankruptcy following political and labour opposition to a sale. Losses have continued since despite funds injected by the likes of French/Dutch Air France-KLM and Etihad Airways.

Sources say the poor outcome of investments in Alitalia and other airlines, along with weaker market growth, had triggered Etihad Airways’ recent decision to restructure, resulting in Hogan’s decision to step down from his post later this year.

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