Etihad says agreed principal terms to buy 49% of Alitalia

Abu Dhabi airline now finalise the deal as soon as possible, subject to regulatory approvals

Abu Dhabi's state-owned Etihad Airways said on Wednesday it had agreed principal terms and conditions to buy a 49 percent stake in Italian airline Alitalia.

A tie-up with Etihad is seen as a last chance to turn around Italy's flagship carrier, which has made an annual profit only a few times in its 68-year history and received numerous state handouts before being privatised in 2008.

The two airlines will now finalise the deal as soon as possible, subject to regulatory approvals, they said in a joint statement without elaborating on the terms of the deal.

The board of troubled Alitalia voted on June 13 to accept an offer by Etihad to invest, but did not give details.

Italy's transport minister Maurizio Lupi has said Etihad is prepared to invest up to €1.25bn ($1.7bn) over the next four years.

The two carriers have been in talks since December, but a deal has so far been elusive due to Italy's reluctance to bow to Etihad's conditions over job cuts of around 2,200 and a restructuring of the airline's debt.

But as Alitalia is expected to run out of cash by August, sources have said the company, the Italian government - which considers the airline a strategic national asset - and trade unions have little choice but to accept a deal onEtihad's terms.

Intesa Sanpaolo, which is both one of Alitalia's creditors and a key shareholder, is convinced a deal on debt restructuring will be reached, hopefully by the end of July, the chairman of the bank's management board Gianmaria Gros Pietro said on Tuesday. Gros Pietro said July 31 was the date set by Etihad to conclude the deal.

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Posted by: Steven

Yes, I am an expert as unfortunately I MUST travel AZ to get home to PISA.
Yes I live in Italy, and have done so for over 20 years, so I am well aware of AZ having also used them very frequently between AUH-FCO also CMN (Casablanca)-FCO on many, many occasions plus all around Europe to get home somehow to Pisa.
I could remind you that AZ used to have a daily flight PSA to LHR, but that's long since gone by the wayside as it seems that people prefer to travel by FR - yes RYANAIR! - oh what a shame to be beaten in service/quality by them - probably the most hated airline in Europe whom, as its commonly known, reciprocate by hatings its own passengers.
I am sorry but I would completely disagree with you - 10 years ago and more they were decidely better.
We could discuss facts about moving crews daily around all over Italy to take flights from other cities as the Employees (both Cockpit & Cabin) refuse to move anywhere else and work and what this costs in hotels, lost seat revenue etc etc?

Posted by: Steven

Well BANG! - In stroke EY has ruined its hard won reputation!
Consider the smiling faces and polite servial attitude of EY staff and then consider the opposite - this is ALITALIA - so bad that even many Italian businessmen try to avoid flying with them.
Well done Mr Hogan, you have obviously never travelled by ALITALIA and if you did it was certainly not incognito. Try it one day Mr Hogan, go on, I dare you, book a ticket in economy 'incognito' and savour the 'taste of ALITALIA'.
And how will you Mr Hogan deal with the labour unions in Rome as any redundancies/lay-offs will be severely opposed by these militants.
I dont think Mr Hogan/EY have fully understood what is ITALY and ALITALIA - but they will soon!

Posted by: Nicola

Another unappreciated expert who pretends to know the airline business more than those whom are clearly teaching it in the modern aviation history. By the way, I was one of those highly criticizing Alitalia and its service over a decade back. Lately it's service has improved notably although I recon there's yet space to improve but for that it needs new planes, therefore money. On the trade unions I agree with you, these are a pain, however in most of the west you find them as you do in USA and Australia, yet with Virgin Australia the partnership is going all but bad. Air Berlin has turned around its bad fate and in Germany trade unions are even more aggressive than Italians.

However Mr. Expert, this deal is now a reality and I'd really love to read your comments in the due course to see if you were right on your ungenerous comments for Italy and Alitalia.

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