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Nationalised Alitalia aims to break even in 2022

MILAN, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A new, downsized Alitalia aims to break even in terms of core profit in 2022, excluding aircraft costs, the state-owned carrier’s CEO-elect said on Friday.

“We are like a start-up company that takes its first step, like a hiker who wants to get to the top but may have to change its path several times,” Fabio Lazzerini told a press call to present the 2021-2025 business plan.

After 11 years of turbulent private management and three failed restructuring attempts, the coronavirus crisis scuppered the Italian government’s plan to sell the airline and Rome decided to re-nationalise it.

Italy has set aside 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion)for a new company that will buy the good assets of the old carrier and launch a new strategy with state support.

Lazzerini and Chairman-elect Francesco Caio face widespread scepticism that the renationalised Alitalia can be profitable after it burnt through around 8 billion euros of taxpayers’ money in the last four years.

Lazzerini, who served as managing director at Gulf airline Emirates in Italy before moving to Alitalia in 2017, said the new carrier would start with 52 planes and up to 5,500 staff, nearly half the levels of the old Alitalia.

The carrier will clinch an industrial partnership next year, Lazzerini said, adding talks were underway over two possible options.

The old Alitalia is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, which includes U.S. carrier Delta and Europe’s AirFrance-KLM . Last year, Germany’s Lufthansa held talks with the old Alitalia over a possible alliance.

The 2021-2025 plan for the new Alitalia will now be submitted to the Italian parliament and to the European Commission for approval.

Brussels will check whether there is a clear break between the old and the new company, otherwise the revamped Alitalia may be asked to repay state aid the old company received, draining much-needed financial resources.

The carrier will focus on Rome’s Fiumicino airport, which is operated by AdR, and Milan’s city airport of Linate, which is managed by privately-owned SEA.

$1 = 0.8175 euros Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter

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