Alitalia first in Europe on state aid: will take 141 euros per passenger

European airlines rain at least 32 billion euros of public money to survive the coronavirus. But the three billion foreseen for the relaunch of Alitalia place the Italian carrier at the top of the ranking of aid per passenger, chased not far from Air France and Lufthansa. It is what emerges from an analysis that the Corriere della Sera has carried out in the last month on official documents and press releases of some twenty airlines of the Old continent. Agreements that concern all kinds of support (granted or being finalized): subsidized or non-refundable loans, subsidies, incentives, deductions, deferred payments, nationalization.

On the podium

In the European comparison, the financial envelope foreseen for the new Alitalia – and subject to the approval of the European Commission – is in fact equivalent to the carrier’s annual revenues and just under € 141 per paying traveler embarked last year, according to the calculations of the Courier service. In second place is Air France: the 7 billion state aid – already approved by Brussels – equates to 133.3 euros per passenger boarding transalpine planes (including the regional Hop division). On the podium of per capita support there is also Lufthansa – understood as a single company, not a group – which will receive a total of 9 billion euros from the German government, 126.2 euros per customer transported.

The other airlines

The other European airline above the € 100 contribution per passenger is the English Virgin Atlantic (€ 102.3), followed by the Finn Finnair who for now can count on € 84.6 per aid per traveler. There is also a difference in the governments’ approach to the carriers of the Lufthansa group: that of Vienna has announced 450 million euros (another 150 will come from the group), that is 30.7 euros per passenger. Less than half of what the Swiss executive has foreseen for Swiss (65.8 euros) and slightly more than the 29 euros awarded to Brussels Airlines. Air Dolomiti, the Italian carrier that is part of the colossus of the skies, should take 40-45 million from the Italian government, or 25-28 euros per passenger.

The low cost approach

It is, it should be noted, a ranking that could change significantly in the coming weeks as other states decide to contribute to the rescue of their airlines. And that takes into account – given the complexity of the agreements – of money that will no longer be returned or that will have to be paid back with little interest. For this reason, there is also the low cost decision to access – for now in a very limited form – some form of credit. In the “no-frills” segment Wizz Air is expected to obtain a loan of 8.5 euros per traveler, Norwegian Air as a whole 7.6 euros, Vueling (which is part of Iag, a holding of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Level) 7, 5 €. At the bottom of the European ranking are the two main low cost airlines: easyJet (6.9 euros) and Ryanair (4.6 euros).

Twenty years ago

Alitalia’s situation is also the result of what happened long ago. “In almost all of Europe the main countries had financed the fleet and the relaunch of the flag carriers before the privatizations and the entry into force of the European rules on state aid”, he reminds Courier service industry expert Roberto Scaramella, partner of Oliver Wyman, one of the largest consultancy firms. “Who had had funding for the fleet, who to acquire another European company, who had monopolized slots at strategic airports by delaying the adoption of intra-European” open sky “rules and with the United States”.

What happened in Italy

Italy, on the other hand, “found itself financing the innumerable crises of Alitalia and the sector a posteriori with interventions aimed more at safeguarding the company or jobs than at revitalizing and competitiveness, becoming the European country with the highest market share in the hands of low cost and foreign companies “. The coronavirus “has eliminated the differences: today they are all back to the starting point”. Each government “set aside unimaginable figures just three months ago to allow the sector to restart,” continues the manager. “Without air transport, the economy of people and goods does not move, that a dollar invested in the sector acts as a flywheel for about 7 dollars in related industries, and that the entire tourism sector is linked to the connectivity of the country”.

The opportunity for revival

This also leads to Alitalia which, according to Scaramella, “has the opportunity to invest in new aircraft to reduce operating costs and financial charges, acting as a driving force for the aerospace industrial chain”, to “redesign international commercial alliances to better serve the most important markets “,” to work in partnership with tourism operators and foreign agencies to capture the flows of entry into Italy “and to start more generally as” a modern and competitive company in which from the first the last employee are involved in defining the objectives and incentivized to achieve them “.