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Italy plans to re-nationalise Alitalia airlines

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An airport Alitalia staff, wearing a respiratory mask and gloves, looks on at Rome’s Fiumicino international airport March 13, 2020. – Rome’s Ciampino airport will shut to passenger flights from March 13, authorities said, with a Terminal T1 also closing at the city’s main Fiumicino facility next week as airlines slash flights to Italy over the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

The Italian government said it intends to re-nationalise the bankrupt former national carrier Alitalia under an emergency economic rescue plan for the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan’s details were outlined in a government decree published late Monday.

Italian media reported that it could cost taxpayers up to 600 million euros ($670 million).

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Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government on Monday agreed on a 25-billion-euro rescue designed to shield families and businesses from the economic fallout of an outbreak that has killed more than 2,100 people in Italy.

One of the measures provides for the creation of “a new company wholly controlled by the ministry of economy and finance or controlled by a company with a majority public stake, including an indirect one” to take over the airline.

Italy’s AGI news agency said the government was setting up a 600-million-euro fund to deal with the damage the pandemic has caused to the aviation sector.

Some of the final details of the Italian economic rescue programme do to be finalised next month.

Alitalia has floundered in the face of fierce competition from low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair.

But analyst warns that it is also too small — and has too many staff for the number of flights it operates — to compete with its rivals.

It flew only 22 million passengers and saw its market share in Italy slip to 14 percent in 2018.

Germany’s Lufthansa and the Atlanta-based Delta Airlines each carried around 180 million passengers that year.

Alitalia’s attempts to secure rescues from either the Italian state railway Ferrovie dello Stato or Lufthansa floundered in January.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

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