Alitalia closed 2020 with a collapse in passengers and revenues due to the coronavirus. If customers on board fell by 70%, the revenue from tickets sold to travelers suffered a greater reduction, of 78%. In the twelve months in the company’s coffers – in extraordinary administration since May 2, 2017 – 2.1 billion euros went missing. These are the numbers provided by Commissioner Giuseppe Leogrande and General Manager Giancarlo Zeni in the hearing of the joint Constitutional Affairs and Budget committees. The commissioner also sounded the alarm on the slowness of the European Commission in approving the compensation allocated to compensate for the damage from Covid-19: a slowness that, he says, requires “times that are hardly compatible with the company’s cash needs”.
More in detail, Commissioner Leogrande – connected by videoconference – revealed that passengers carried by Alitalia went from 21.29 million in 2019 to 6.31 million last year: seven out of ten travelers have actually disappeared due to the coronavirus . To give even more the idea of the past year is the distribution of flows: “of these 6.31 million transported, 2.8 million flew in January and February”, therefore before the outbreak of the pandemic, Leogrande stressed. In short, almost half of the customers in 2020 were registered in the first two months. In April and May the collapse was -97% and -95%, but after the small summer recovery, November and December closed with -90 and -85%.
Revenues and losses
It fared worse than the revenues from ticket sales (which are the vast majority of a company’s overall revenue). If in 2019 these had been 2.67 billion euros in 2020 they have reduced to 590.4 million, Leogrande said. In this case, it is almost 80% (78% to be precise) that have disappeared due to Covid-19. And as for passengers, revenues were concentrated above all in the first two months of the year with over 320 million euros, therefore more than half. The greater decline in this item compared to that of passengers shows that the reduction in the average fare – to support traffic demand – has not given much incentive to travelers frightened by the pandemic and held back by the various restrictions. In the third quarter (July-September) 2020 Alitalia recorded an Ebit of almost -158 million euros (it was +7.6 million in the same period of 2019). In the first nine months of last year, the red was -585 million euros (-242 million in the same period of 2019).
A trend that will continue, according to what was reported by the general manager Giancarlo Zeni: according to him, in fact, the traffic demand in the first six months of 2021 is still very low, 80% less than what it was a year ago – before therefore of the coronavirus – and this will result in a further burden on Alitalia’s coffers. Also for this reason that Leogrande hopes for an “absolute acceleration” to close the dossier and get the new Alitalia, publicly powered, off the ground through Italia Transport Aereo. The company obtained a first tranche of 199.45 million euros of compensation for Covid in September, another 73 million euros at the end of December and expects an additional 77 million in these weeks, also to cover employee salaries. In all, 350 million euros are allocated by the government to offset the consequences of the pandemic.
On the help for Covid, Commissioner Leogrande explained that the European ok has not arrived quickly so far. In fact, to have the first tranche of 199.45 million, the EU Commission asked for various data and the ok came after four months. Another three months were needed to unlock the second tranche of 73 million euros. “The EU Commission has decided to redetermine the selection criterion for the damage – he continued -, and this required times that were difficult to match with the cash requirements of the company”. “Refreshments for an event of this type must be provided within the time necessary for management”.
One year of management
The commissioner himself then recalled that when he took office – in December 2019 – “Alitalia’s situation was heavy: there were 247 million euros in commercial debt and over 240 million in prepaid debt collected from tickets sold”. This led to the disbursement of another 400 million – in addition to the 900 million already allocated in 2017 – which, however, were to be used “to support the need until March 31 and implement the sale program”. As of May 31, the net cash projection was 77 million. But then Covid-19 arrived.
The trade unions
“After listening to the words of the commissioner and the director general, unfortunately, we saw the concerns and alarms that we had strongly expressed for some time now materialize”, explains in a note the National Air Transport Federation (participated by Anpac, Anpav, Anp) which represents most of the pilots and flight attendants of the current Alitalia. “The resources available to the commissioner are in fact running out, the situation is unsustainable and a series of extraordinary interventions and a coordination of the competent ministers are urgently needed to bring order and guarantee business continuity and the maintenance of jobs”.
The story of Alitalia under extraordinary administration is linked to the fate of Italia Trasporti Aereo, the newco published created precisely to relaunch the tricolor carrier. The European Antitrust wants to see clearly on the operation and make sure that there is the maximum possible discontinuity between the two companies. For this reason, on January 8 he sent a letter of nine pages – and 123 questions – addressed to the government, to the carrier in extraordinary administration and to ITA led by Francesco Caio (president) and Fabio Lazzerini (managing director). From what is learned, the newco has already sent its share of answers, but has clearly made it clear to the European Commission that Linate’s brand, loyalty program and slots are an important part of its business plan.