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Malpensa airport at risk? PDF Print E-mail
Mar 28, 2008 at 04:35 PM
ImageThe fate of Malpensa airport has become intricately mixed up in that of Alitalia's. One of Air France's conditions for going ahead with it's offer is sharp staff cutbacks, the second is that SEA, the Milan airport system management company, withdraw its threatened suit against Alitalia for damages of 1.25 billion euros. And it is not clear if Berlusconi's northern allies will agree to do so.

        On March 30, Alitalia will drastically cut back the number of its flights out of Milan's Malpensa international airport: instead of 177 daily flights, there will be only 50 and the company's intercontinental flights will be reduced to three, Newark, San Paolo and Tokyo. Although it may well be that other airlines will move in to pick up the vacant slots, the president of the Lombardia region, Roberto Formigoni, Milan's mayor, Letizia Moratti and the leadership of the Northern League party are crying foul - a deadly blow to the North's economy they say - and blaming Air France.

        But this is true only indirectly as the decision to reverse the controversial 1998 designation of Malpensa as Alitalia's second hub, along with Fiumicino, was made by Alitalia last August as it began to prepare for a second round of offers from prospective buyers, the first having ended in failure. Air France has certainly added grist to Formigoni and Co.'s mill by saying it plans to shut down Alitalia's cargo division - which is based in Malpensa - by 2010, but the change was long coming.
        Most neutral observers agree, in fact, that the retrenchment is absolutely necessary and that the Malpensa project, extremely costly for the airline, was a mistake from the start, Certainly, it made no one happy and was never even fully implemented.. Rome local administrators were angry about the loss of Fiumicino flights and the original project, which included a near shutdown of Milan's city airport, Linate, was blocked by strikes and the violent protests of the then Milan mayor, Gabriele Albertini.


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