Months after the prolonged death agony of Italian flag-carrier Alitalia after years of turmoil and losses and the birth of its replacement, ITA Airways, it looks as if, at least in name, Alitalia might be poised for a comeback.
Two different possibilities are in the air, the most intriguing a potential bid for ownership, or at least majority control, of the new airline by a joint venture of Lufthansa Group and the MSC shipping and cruise line, which is Italian-owned but headquartered in Switzerland. They have asked for a 90-day exclusive period in which to do their research and possibly formulate a bid.
Meanwhile, the Alitalia brand itself—trademarks, livery and the rest—are owned by ITA, which bought them at auction for €90 million. At the time, the new company said it was acting to keep anyone else from using them. But now, at its board meeting next week, ITA will consider reviving the name, either for the whole operation or for part of it, possibly the intercontinental long-haul flights. It's also thought likely that if a Lufthansa-MSC deal happens, they would re-adopt the old name.
In the meantime, Alitalia remains visually alive, since ITA started with 70% of its staff hired from Alitalia employees who already had Alitalia uniforms. Most of the start-up fleet was also acquired from Alitalia and has not yet been repainted, so a change back would not be difficult. On the other hand, the question of alliance membership would be upfront in a Lufthansa deal; it is one of the Star Alliance leaders, while ITA has just joined Sky Team, which Alitalia had belonged to.
In any case, it's clear that it's never really the end with Alitalia!