Transport Airlines

Alitalia’s CEO Agrees to Leave After Selling 49% Stake to Etihad

Aug 11, 2014 12:01 am

Skift Take

It’s difficult to imagine the herding of cats/soothing of egos that took place in Alitalia’s executive office in the months-long process to get this deal done.

— Jason Clampet

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Max Rossi  / Reuters

An Alitalia plane approaches to land at Fiumicino international airport in Rome October 14, 2013. Max Rossi / Reuters


Alitalia‘s chief executive Gabriele Del Torchio is ready to leave the airline after striking a rescue deal with Etihad Airways, according to a media report on Saturday.

Del Torchio, told daily in an interview that Alitalia’s board will choose his successor. He was recruited last year to help bring the struggling flagship carrier back to profit.

Etihad Airways on Friday signed a Euro 1.76 billion deal to acquire 49 per cent stake in loss-making Alitalia. The Abu Dhabi-based airline said it will restructure the Italian carrier to make it profitable by 2017.

For nearly a year, Del Torchio led talks to secure a deal with Etihad that was finally signed on Friday.

“My task was to lead the company towards an alliance. I don’t know yet what I will do, but I’m not ready to retire yet,” he told the paper.

Del Torchio believed an Italian would lead the group. Other Italian papers suggested Silvano Cassano, a former chief executive of Italian clothing, manufacturing and retail group Benetton, as a likely candidate.

The airline will also have a new chairman as current chairman Roberto Colaninno has said he would step down once a deal was reached. Various Italian media reports on Saturday said that Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo would likely succeed Colaninno.

Risky Investment

Meanwhile, an aviation analyst termed the Etihad’s deal with Alitalia risky and said Abu Dhabi-based airline will have to go all-out to make this deal work to achieve desire results by 2017.

“Etihad simply has to make this deal work. Failure is not an option for the two carriers. The risk profile is very high because of the structural, corporate and cultural barriers that exist between the two airlines,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research, told

“Alitalia is a huge disaster as an airline and is as volatile as it is toxic. It may have a sizeable European network and indeed some lucrative routes to the US, but the airline needs a massive cash injection to revamp its fleet which will costs tens of billions of dollars in the long term,” Ahmad said.

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