Lufthansa’s entry into ITA Airways is getting closer – Economy

The short history of the new Italian airline ITA Airways is already full of drama. Since ITA began flying last year as the successor to the legendary loss-making Alitalia, there have been plane purchases worth billions, hundreds of millions in start-up losses and a spectacularly failed privatization. Everything is already heading towards the next crisis, because almost everyone agrees that ITA needs a financially strong partner.

In the latest twist, it now looks like a potential sale of the company to Lufthansa as an investor is once again a possibility. According to reports, the group has long since started examining the ITA books and is looking for a partner. According to SZ information, this could be the state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS). Accordingly, Lufthansa would take over 51 percent, FS another 29 percent, and the Italian state would remain involved with 20 percent. First of all, the Corriere della Sera reported.

Lufthansa does not comment officially on the subject, but the strong interest in ITA is guaranteed. 15 years ago she almost joined Alitalia – the former chairman of the supervisory board, Jürgen Weber, prevented it at the last minute. The reason for the interest is clear: after the USA, Italy is the most important foreign market for the airline group, so what could be more obvious than operating your own airline there?

But the matter is more complicated. Due to the weakness of Alitalia and later ITA, low-cost airlines have established themselves in Italy, with Ryanair leading the way. The Irish airline currently has a market share of more than 30 percent in Italy, the ticket prices are correspondingly low – so Lufthansa/ITA can hardly gain anything in European traffic, even if they were willing to invest heavily in a new fleet and then focus on the to fight with Ryanair. On long-haul routes, which is potentially more lucrative, ITA hardly plays a role; it would have to assert itself against massive competition from American providers or even the Gulf airlines.

The previous interested parties have dropped out

And finally, Lufthansa would indirectly weaken itself: together with its regional subsidiary Air Dolomiti, it attracts transfer passengers to its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich and fills the wide-body jets there. If ITA were to set up a long-haul fleet within the group itself, these passengers would be missing more and more. The group already offers long-distance travel from five hubs (Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Vienna and Zurich).

The ITA privatization process has been turbulent so far. In the first round, there was a joint offer from Lufthansa and the shipping company MSC as well as the US financial investor Certares. Shortly before it ended, the government of former Prime Minister Mario Draghi gave Certares preference, also because Lufthansa insisted on as little state influence as possible, but the Americans did not see the issue so narrowly. However, Certares let the deadlines for the exclusive negotiations pass – the new government under Georgia Meloni was left empty-handed.

Eventually, things took a turn for the worse: although she had claimed the opposite during the election campaign, Meloni is now apparently in favor of selling – others should solve the ITA problem. At the same time, however, MSC founder Gianluigi Aponte had enough of the theater and withdrew, as did Certares. Lufthansa stays, maybe with the railway company, maybe without – according to SZ information, there is still no agreement. As far as the purchase price is concerned, things would have gone well: Lufthansa is said to only have to pay 250 million for 51 percent, which would only be about half of the original purchase price.

source site