Fly Away AZ

When I left these shores for the five month journey Alitalia (AZ) were in  their death throws and about to be injected with cash by the Italian Post Office ( read Italian tax payer as they own the Post Office). The EU were ” considering” whether this was actually an illegal government subsidy.

Well clearly it all went swimmingly well, the Post Office with tax payers money did their bit and the E.U. as only they can, decided that tax payers money is certainly not a government subsidy.

Alitalia have been a basket case for years. My one and only longhaul flight on them from Bombay to Rome 20 years ago in their Business/First class as they called it summed it up. The crew set up a bar in the middle of the cabin of the 747 and then invited passengers to help themselves while they took to the crew rest seats after a particularly hectic 4 night lay over in Bombay.  Amazingly they had no Italian wine nor a single Campari on the flight.

Anyway it seems a white knight has come riding in to save them in the guise of James Hogan the CEO of Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi . He has €450 million burning a hole in his pocket and is keen to stick it into Alitalia the brave or maybe foolish thing. He is treading where several other airline CEOs have trod before the last being the head of Air France/KLM who ran a mile when confronted with the size of the debt.

James has a new strategy though. Get the government to do all the dirty work before you buy. So he has had long talks with Wheel of Fortune Renzi in Rome this week. 3,000 workers must go from the 14,000 workforce and the government must pay.  The debt must be restructured ( postponed or cancelled in other words) and the government must sort that out with Unicredit Bank who unbelievably are not only the biggest stock holder but also the biggest debtor. I think we know why their share price is where it is if that is their idea of investing in successful companies. Wonder how much the lad at Unicredit got in bonus for that trade .

So far it has worked and our man at the top has seemingly promised to do all that to rid himself of the airline.  James who was a Hertz man who switched to airlines first at the now defunct British Midland then at Gulf Air has no real experience of grandfather rights and the kind of union control that has frustrated anyone who has controlled or looked at buying Alitalia.  These boys aren’t going quietly off into the sunset.

go on let’s have another Campari ad shall we

James plans to make Alitalia a five star longhaul airline with few if any European or internal flights. For that he will need the full co-operation of the cabin crew unions, the pilots and the dear old ground staff unions. He will need to dramatically lower costs at the same time as Alitalia have come off most of their longhaul routes because they can’t make money with the union agreements they have in place.

I wish him well and if he gets there maybe they will stock Campari again on their flights

And maybe some Martini Gold as well

Still it is Sunday and we are off to lunch . Our Italian friends have asked us to bring something British as a dessert . Apple crumble is the dish as I forgot to get the bread for bread and butter pudding. Luckily Apple Crumble is full of sugar and so should be an hit we hope. I will let you know what they think of it.

Last time we took a starter and chose prawn cocktail. There were plenty of strange looks and some very hesitant forays into their individual bowls. No one wanted to be first to actually put the mix into their mouth. Eventually one brave soul did and announced it buono. The rest followed and before long we were serving seconds. That classic 60’s dinner party starter can still win people over it seems.

Have another Martini to finish up with

don’t mind if I do. enjoy your Sunday.

Brings tears to your eyes.





About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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