Well, ya gotta hand it to RyanAir. First, they paint "Arriverderci Alitalia" on their planes. Then, they bring British humour to the Neopolitans by advertising, "Don't pay taxes! (for garbage removal & on flights)! Now, they've got the entire country in a tizzy for reprinting Minister Bossi's casual gesture, basically citing that by supporting high cost Alitalia, the country officials are basically saying (see gesture) to passengers.
Problem is, RyanAir's right. And therein lies the controversy.
The government, after giving away untold thousands of taxpayers' money to their friendly "Banker Consultants" over at San Paolo di Torino, received word from their trusty financial advisors that: a) Alitalia was indeed bankrupt, b) they'd have to cut jobs (even more than Air France had allowed), and c) they needed to sell the Company. Wow. Truly earth shattering news.
So now, the truth's out: it's not really about Alitalia at all, but about how Berlusconi and his cronies can shake a bit more moolah out of its airplane piggy bank. Now, if only the Italians will stop waxing nostalgic over having an "Italian flag carrier" (never mind a bloated, costly and inefficient one) and realize this basic truth.
To pay for Alitalia's debts, the government has legitimized its own Ponzy scheme whereby they give 300 million to Alitalia, and then gauge the populace (the ones who pay taxes) to pony up more to Alitalia in order to cover the debt, and, now the huge EU levy on the illegal "loan" to start with.
And, with his characteristic chutzpah, Berlusconi asks the people to keep flying Alitalia, thereby paying even more into its coffers...Why Italians don't ask for their money back is beyond me, or, in the very least, a taxpayer discount on flights. But never fear, our White Knight is going to see it through.
No one ever denied that he wasn't a marketing magnate (just check out his Forza Italia campaign he brilliantly put out years ago, months before announcing he was running for Prime Minister of the newly formed Forza Italia party).
His new solution? "We've come up with a slogan" -- nothing like taking real action toward cutting your losses. How much did they pay the PR Consultants from the kitty to come up with this one?
Io amo Italia, io volo Alitalia.
Now that's amore.