Friday, May 9

Alitalia's Turbulent Ride

Just in case you’ve been too absorbed by the Obama-Clinton rollercoaster ride, I thought I’d give a brief rundown on the ups and downs of the buyout of crippled and overbloated Alitalia. My faithful readers will know that Air France left the negotiating table. But then, instead of giving Alitalia a final coup de grace, the Italian government gave it a shot – of money -- in the form of a 300M euro dubious ‘bridge loan’ instead.

Suspicious, because, the amount of money the Italian government already gives to feed this carrier’s habit, the loan starts to reek an awful lot like ‘government subsidy’ – something fairly anathema to the EU. If we’re not careful, you’ll soon see pilots parking their planes on highway exit ramps in protest throughout the Ile de France.

So, in what was at first a miracle from John Paul II himself -- bringing into the country much-needed foreign investment in the form of an Air France deal – turned out to be a bad case of sibling rivalry—Sì, the country needs foreign investment, just not from the oo là là French…

Then, Berlusconi weighed in on the importance of having a ‘national airline’ (Why? One must ask, and, what about Air One? Is it Jamaican or something?). He then said he’d form an ‘Italian buyout’. Too bad all of the banks he said would do the deal, promptly said they wouldn’t.

He then suggested his own children would be part of a crack business team…Turns out, they were obviously too busy planning their marriages to members of the hoi polloi in an effort to lift the country out of economic decline, to actually take part.

And so, Berlusconi then announced a deal with that most Italian of carriers, Russia’s Aeroflot. Considering the number of prostitutes Italy gets from that country—perhaps they’d found new meaning for the Mile High Club. One look at the corruption surrounding both countries and hey, they could pass for blood brothers – it’d be an Italian job after all.

But even the Russians didn’t want this hot potato. So Berlusconi came ‘round to the idea that, voilà! A deal with Air France wasn’t such a bad idea…so he invited them back to the table, as if it was his in the first place.

Perhaps he’s promised a few more Carla Brunis to marry a few French ministers, perhaps even the Minister of Transport – And ecco! Fraternitè!

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