Lufthansa is aiming to acquire a stake in the Italian national carrier ITA Airways. In February 2022, Italy’s government officially authorized the privatization of ITA, the successor to Alitalia, setting the process in motion with the approval of a decree by the Council of Ministers to begin the search for buyers.
As Alitalia’s successor, ITA has significant rights to take-off and landing slots at Rome Fiumicino and Milan airports. Specifically, it inherited 43% of its predecessor’s slots at the Roman and Milanese facilities. “We will follow the usual procedures”, either a bidding process or an outright sale, said Italy’s Finance Minister Daniele Franco.
Before the announcement, both Lufthansa and Swiss-Italian shipping group MSC had expressed interest in acquiring a majority stake in the airline. At the time, it was concluded that the Italian government would retain a minority stake in the company, “which could be sold at a later stage.” MSC founder Gianluigi Aponte stressed that the shipping group wanted to hold a majority stake in the company, while Lufthansa could join as a business partner.
Lufthansa’s plan is now to agree on the initial acquisition of a minority stake as well as on options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date. On 18 January, the company submitted an offer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this respect. Contingent on both parties signing this MoU, further negotiations and discussions would be conducted on an exclusive basis.
These talks would primarily focus on the form of a possible equity investment, the commercial and operational integration of ITA into the Lufthansa Airline Group, as well as resulting synergies. In case a binding agreement is reached, its implementation would be subject to approval by the relevant authorities.
After the US, Italy is the most important market for Lufthansa Group outside of its home markets. Italy’s importance for both business and private travel lies in its strong export-oriented economy and status as one of Europe’s top vacation spots.