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EasyJet Wants More Milan Slots If ITA Links With Lufthansa - Paper

Published on Mar 9 2022 10:04 AM in General Industry tagged: Lufthansa / easyjet / Alitalia / ITA

EasyJet Wants More Milan Slots If ITA Links With Lufthansa - Paper

EasyJet EZJ.L would want more slots at Milan's Linate airport should carrier ITA team up with Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE, the chief executive of the British carrier has said, indicating the airline's commitment to Italy.

"We want to expand. If ITA goes (to Lufthansa) then Linate will increase the flights towards Frankfurt and Munich," easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren was quoted as saying in daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

"ITA should give up some slots and it would be an opportunity for easyJet to have more in order to increase connections from Milan to Europe's capitals, " he added.

EasyJet, the second largest airline in Italy by number of passengers, came through the pandemic by cutting costs, bolstering its balance sheet and switching capacity to its busiest routes.

Last week the Italian government launched the process to find a partner for ITA Airways, the state-owned successor to Alitalia which started flying in October.

Shipping company MSC and Lufthansa have expressed an interest in buying a majority stake in ITA, and asked for an exclusivity period of 90 days to iron out details.

Lundgren also told Il Sole 24 that easyJet was committed to its standalone plan after rejecting a takeover approach last year.

He expects airline traffic in Europe to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

The CEO added that easyJet expected eight aircraft to be delivered in 2022, and seven next year, confirming it had 118 airplanes on order in total.

Lufthansa Takes Compulsory Pilot Redundancies Off The Table

In other Lufthansa-related news, the above news was followed by news that Lufthansa LHAG.DE will not impose compulsory job cuts, the German airline has said, as it cuts costs nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic that left the industry reeling.

The company said that voluntary redundancy programmes and part-time solutions would reduce numbers in a socially responsible manner.

"We have worked hard in recent weeks and months to avert compulsory redundancies for the cockpit staff of our core brand despite the pandemic's serious impact," Lufthansa executive board member Michael Niggemann said in a statement.

Lufthansa did not say how many of its core brand's 5,000 pilots will be leaving. Earlier company information suggested there was a surplus of approximately 1,100.

Lufthansa said it was still looking for new jobs for pilots from its low-cost carrier Germanwings, which was grounded in April 2020.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has brought up layoffs several times during negotiations with the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots union during the pandemic.

Ukraine Crisis Poses New Risks For Alitalia Successor ITA - Chairman

All of the above news was followed by news that the Ukraine crisis has hit air traffic just as the sector was emerging from the pandemic and passenger bookings were recovering, the chairman of Alitalia successor ITA Airways has said.

ITA Chairman Alfredo Altavilla, speaking at a presentation at Rome's Fiumicino airport, said the invasion of Ukraine "is a risk and uncertainty factor that we didn't want."

But ITA, which started flying in October, will not modify the business plan it approved in January, Chief Executive Fabio Lazzerini said.

Altavilla said the new Italian carrier had recorded a "nice increase" in bookings from March and April before the Ukraine crisis emerged last week.

Lazzerini said that the closure of Russian airspace to European carriers made routes to Asia longer and more expensive, but also said ITA would only start to fly to Asia in June, when he hoped the Ukraine crisis would be over.

For the new summer season, ITA will fly to 64 destinations, of which seven are overseas.

The carrier is also launching new long-haul flights for Rome-Miami and Rome-Boston in March and will start a new Milan-New York route in April, it said in a statement.

The Italian government, which is owns ITA Airways, last month announced the intention to partly privatise the airline. Shipping group MSC and Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE have expressed their interest in buying a majority stake in the group.

Altavilla said that the data room would open very soon to allow suitors to check ITA's financial data.

The airline launched its new loyalty programme at the Fiumicino event, along with new jets and its new destinations for the summer.

ITA presented its new Airbus AIR.PA aircraft with the new blue livery, which have been named after popular Italian sport stars including late soccer player Paolo Rossi.

ITA Airways Gets Green Light To Open Data Room For Stake Sale

All of the above news was followed by news that Italy's audit court approved a government decree detailing ways to sell stakes in ITA Airways, officials have said, paving the way for the state-owned carrier to give potential suitors access to data on the company.

ITA took over from Alitalia in October, permanently grounding the 75-year-old, one-time symbol of Italian style and glamour after years of financial losses and failed rescue attempts.

Shipping group MSC and Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE have expressed interest in buying a majority stake in ITA, and requested an exclusivity period of 90 days to iron out details of an acquisition.

The Italian government, which is entitled to inject €1.35 billion into the carrier over three years as agreed with European Union competition authorities, preferred to keep the door open to other potential suitors.

The Treasury plans to privatise ITA through a direct sale or a public offer while retaining a minority, non-controlling stake in a first stage, according to the decree.

Governance agreements between the Treasury and the prospective partners will make it possible to pursue ITA's industrial targets, it added.

In past decades, Alitalia tried and failed to clinch alliances with Air France AIRF.PA and, more recently, Gulf airline Etihad. Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N earlier this year said it had no plans to invest in ITA.

Lufthansa On Course For Recovery, Ukraine Crisis Limits Visibility

In additional Lufthansa-related news, all of the above news was followed by news that Germany's Lufthansa LHAG.DE, which narrowed its losses in 2021 but remained in the red, has said that it could not provide a detailed outlook for 2022 due to the war in Ukraine and the pandemic.

The airline said that it expected significant improvement in operating results for the rest of the year after a challenging first quarter of 2022.

"We are very sure that air traffic will experience a strong upswing this year," said chief executive Carsten Spohr. "Now we are leaving the crisis behind us mentally and - in view of the strong booking figures this year - also in business terms."

But major uncertainties regarding developments in Ukraine and the economic and political fallout, as well as uncertainties regarding the course of the pandemic, did not allow the company to provide a detailed financial outlook, Lufthansa said.

Moscow has closed its airspace to European and US aircraft after European states and the United States banned Russian flights.

Airlines are bracing for potentially lengthy blockages of key east-west flight corridors and preparing for further disruptions to its passenger and freight businesses.

Lufthansa Group, which includes Eurowings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss, plans to offer more than 70% of its pre-crisis capacity this year, rising to 85% for the summer.

The company reported a 2021 operating loss of €2.3 billion, in line with analyst forecasts.

In 2020, the company reported a loss of €5.5 billion.

A partial sale or a partial listing of Lufthansa Technik was intended for 2023, Lufthansa said.

Lufthansa Has No Plans For Majority Stake In Italy's ITA

All of the above news was followed by news that Lufthansa LHAG.DE has no plans to take a majority stake in Alitalia's successor ITA Airways, the German airline's CEO has said, telling investors not to worry about his pursuit of a business that racked up years of losses before its relaunch.

Lufthansa has teamed up with shipping group MSC to express an interest in ITA and could soon be given access to its books after the Italian government detailed ways to sell the slimmed down airline.

MSC has said that it would take a majority stake in ITA, with Lufthansa as a junior partner.

Asked whether Lufthansa wanted a majority stake in ITA, CEO Carsten Spohr said that was "far away" from its intentions.

He said that the German airline would look carefully at ITA's finances, referring to Alitalia's years of losses and failed attempts to clinch an alliance.

"We know what we are doing in Italy, no worry," said Spohr.

"I hear my shareholders - don't worry we know there is a legacy."

It was the Italian government that put the two suitors together.

"The government linked us up with MSC, and they asked us for a blind date, and we fell in love," said Spohr.

The chief executive met MSC's Italian owners - the Aponte family - in person as he regarded this as crucial for a common project of this size, he said.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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