19 March 2008

Is Air France paying too much for Alitalia?

Air France is buying Alitalia. A big sigh of relief goes up in Rome. A challenge will be filed from a certain building not a million miles from Dublin Airport. But is M. Spinetta (isn't that an Italian sounding name?) paying too much? Probably not for dominance.

But the price to be paid is not for the intrinsic value of the business - it is so someone can save face.

Alitalia will require a massive investment program. At a time when airlines operating costs are going through the roof. One could argue - if one was a French Trade Unionist - that the investment in AZ could be much better served in paying more money to AF workers.

A resurgent Alitalia could provide a much needed boost to the Italian economy. I am not so sure that the new EC entrants are going to be happy about that. Why is this important? Because when the issue of alleged illegal state aid for AZ finally wends its way before the commission it may just end up in front of a not so happy administrative law judge.

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