EC asks for Alitalia rescue information from Italy
European bodies seek details for airline assistance18 October, 14:21
The EC earlier this week expressed concern it had not been given advance notice of measures approved by major shareholders to keep the airline aloft, in order to confirm these were compatible with EU law.
A spokesman for Competition Commissioner Joaquìn Almunia has said that it could not rule out the possibility that State aid was involved in the Alitalia bailout package, because of the involvement of the Italian post office. "All states are obliged to notify the Commission when it comes to State aid," the spokesman said earlier this week.
On Monday, shareholders in the troubled carrier unanimously approved an emergency 300-million-euro capital hike to save the airline from bankruptcy. The state-owned post office, Poste Italiane, will buy up to 75 million euros in any unsubscribed shares in the capital increase. That triggered immediate outrage from the parent company of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, the International Airlines Group, which quickly called on the Commission to intervene, saying the package amounted to State aid and broke EU law because of the post office.
The capital increase is part of a government-led 500-million-euro rescue package, which includes 200 million euros in loans approved by the board last Friday, when the carrier was in danger of defaulting on its big debts within days.
Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit will guarantee to take a stake worth up to 100 million euros.