By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Italy’s plan to create a successor to its loss-making airline Alitalia cleared a major hurdle on Wednesday after the European Commission said it had reached an agreement with Rome on parameters to ensure that the new airline is independent of the old one. a.
Long-standing talks between the two sides have turned into a disagreement over the cession by his successor of half of Alitalia’s slots at Milan Linate Airport, the old brand and loyalty program.
EU competition authorities want Rome to ensure that there is no economic continuity between Alitalia and its successor Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), otherwise the latter would be responsible for billions of euros of state aid received in recent years.
The possible deal between the Commission and Rome came on Wednesday after a meeting between EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Italian Economic Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti and Economy Minister Daniele Franco.
“The Commission and the Italian authorities have reached a common understanding on the key parameters to ensure the economic discontinuity between ITA and Alitalia”, said a Commission spokesperson.
She said talks with Rome would now continue at a technical level while an ongoing investigation into the 1.3 billion euros ($ 1.59 billion) in state aid granted to Alitalia was underway. final stage.
Giorgetti said Rome must now work to get the new Alitalia ready for operation “as soon as possible”, adding that it was reasonable to expect a start in August.
Under the deal, less than half of Alitalia’s fleet will be transferred to ITA, along with less than half of its aviation staff, with new contracts, a person familiar with the matter said. The source added that the ITA will keep a number of slots at Milan Linate Airport depending on how many planes it has.
The rest of Alitalia’s assets, including its brand, will be put out to tender, where ITA will be allowed to participate along with other interested parties, the person said.
ITA will not be allowed to take over Alitalia’s loyalty program or its customers, he said.
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(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Francesca Landini and Giulio Piovaccari in Milan; editing by Alison Williams and Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Edward Tobin)