And so it was, or, so it seemed to be*, that Air France has finally won approval to take over Alitalia (for whatever reason, it behooves me).
Charging right over those Alps and through the muck, just like Napoleon before them, here come the French to save the day. Sure, Air France is the only other company on the entire earth that knows what it’s getting into: both companies, after all, are suffocated by angry unions, pulled down by seriously over-bloated ranks, marked by surly service and destroyed by rampant strikes. Unsurprisingly, their’s was the only offer on the table.
And just like those early battles alongside the Savoys so long ago, the first decisive battle is once again taking place on Novara soil, while they're busy fortifying the ramparts further down in Rome:
They’re building a multi-million euro addition to the poorly named Fiumicino or Leonardo Da Vinci Airport (take your pick); and sacrificing the best thing that ever happened to Italy - the even more incredibly ill-named, Malpensa (literally: Ill-thought) Airport. Despite its outrageous moniker, it is the engine that drives the entire economy, it is the saving grace of travelers far and wide. After all, it was not so long ago, that to come in & out of Italy, one had to take a puddle jumper over to Rome. This is their attack plan.
Capitulating to their new overlords, the Italians wasted no time in shutting down a third of the flights, just before tourist season. In a sick game of sour grapes, reminiscent of the way they ousted the Austrians in the 1800s, Italy refuses to let the Irish low-cost airline, RyanAir, gain a foothold on Italian soil.
With Milan’s fashion industry trying to maintain its competitive edge, while Fiat is making a comeback, while they’re building bigger and better trade show grounds, while foreign companies are still setting up their headquarters, the French – Roman alliance wants to put an end to it all by squeezing out its only northern gateway to business.
Perhaps the French should take note that, despite his numerous conquests, Napoleon in the end abdicated and was exiled to the Italian Isle of Elba.
*Incredibly, the guy whose stature, chutzpah & sheer arrogance is reminiscent of the Emperor Napoleon, Berlusconi, has just thrown a wrench in the deal stating he wishes now to take over Alitalia. To tell you the truth, it may be an improvement -- since he’s a Milanese – at least he’ll keep the airport running, if only for his own private jets (the modern day equivalent of the Bonaparte stables).
But, the Air France officials can supply a rebuff of their very own Napoleon who claimed, as he won the Italian crown: "Dio me l’ha data, guai a chi la tocca! "
[God has given this to me, and for whomever so may touch it, there will be serious trouble.”]