On the departures board of Terminal 2 of Heathrow, the immense London airport, there are only three flights with Alitalia’s red-green livery for Friday: two on Roma, one only his Milano. They are the only post-Covid air connections of the former flag carrier airline to Italy. The new Ita ready to take off risks being canceled even those from the board. From 31 October, it will technically no longer have landing and take-off “corridors” at the airport of the British capital.

The final prank

Gives Abu Dhabi a last tile fell on the troubled Alitalia. And it tastes like a joke. It is the final legacy of Etihad, a former shareholder of Alitalia but still owner of the precious “slots” on the British airport, one of the most coveted in the world. At the end of August the Emirati airline, the last private shareholder of Alitalia before the commissioner, took back all the slots: 5 pairs of “spaces” that the failing company paid 10 thousand euros a day.

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That of Alitalia’s London slots is a controversial story that has been dragging on for almost 10 years. They were from Alitalia, but the company sold them to shareholder Etihad amid many allegations of being sold off (60 million euros, but the value was decided by an independent expert). On August 31, the application to renew the slots for the next winter season expired, which IATA has set for October 31.

Ethad’s reminders

From the Persian Gulf, Etihad has repeatedly urged Alitalia to apply. But no response came. At that point the airline decided, as a precautionary measure, to take back the “corridors”, so as not to lose them. The one between Etihad and Alitalia was a bankruptcy marriage, never really taken off, with reciprocal accusations: the Italians accuse Abu Dhabi of having depleted Alitalia (starting with the alleged sale of the slots); the Emiratis were disappointed with the Italian management.

But by now, pouring blame ex post is a sterile exercise. The fact is: if it wants to continue flying on Heathrow, like the old Alitalia, the future Ita will have to knock on the door of the Emirs or directly on that of the airport.

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