Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr has stated that the German carrier is unlikely to acquire a majority stake in ITA Airways. He did say, however, that Italy is the second most important strategic aviation market in the world and confirmed that a minority stake is a probability.
Spohr told investors during a 2021 results presentation not to worry about a full takeover of Alitalia’s successor, as holding a majority stake in ITA is “far from his intentions,” Reuters reported.
Italy is the most important international market for us in Europe, and it is number two in the world, second only to the US.Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa
In February, Italy’s government officially authorized the privatization of ITA (Italia Transporto Aereo), 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, according to Italy’s Finance Minister Daniele Franco.
Lufthansa has teamed up with Swiss-Italian shipping giant MSC to look at the possibilities of investing in ITA. Spohr addressed the origins of this partnership saying, “The government connected us with MSC, and they asked us for a blind date, and we fell in love.”
Gianluigi Aponte, the billionaire founder, owner and chairman of MSC, recently clarified to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that “the most important thing for is to have a majority stake in ITA Airways. The Germans can come in as a business partner or minority shareholder. We want to manage ITA, otherwise we wouldn’t be going into this business. We don’t want to be a sleeping partner.”
But Spohr emphasized at the investor meeting how vital Italy is to Lufthansa. “For us, Italy is of strategic importance and we believe that, with our experience also with Air Dolomiti, the Lufthansa Group is the right partner for this,” he said. The Lufthansa chief executive met personally with MSC’s owners, the Aponte family, something he considered crucial for a project of this size.