In business logic, a company in financial difficulties seeks buyers among solid groups with sufficient capital to invest. But in commercial aviation this is not always the case, as noted by Alitalia, the problematic carrier. The Italian government has been looking for new partners for a long time to try to get the flag carrier back on track, but the coronavirus pandemic made this effort impossible.
About to resume a small part of its flights on July 13, Alitalia is in the process of being nationalized after failed attempts to auction it again. But at least one candidate to become a partner in the airline continues to show interest in the business, Bolivian entrepreneur German Efromovich.
In an audience with the transport committee of the Italian parliament, Efromovich expressed his willingness to participate in the company. “I am ready to take a stake as big as the Italian government is prepared to offer… I don’t ask for the majority, but I want to have a say over the governance and the management of the company,” he said on Wednesday.
The big question is to understand with what credentials the entrepreneur would present himself after having one of his airlines filed for bankruptcy and without the slightest condition to fly again (OceanAir, aka Avianca Brasil). In addition, Efromovich was removed from the board of Avianca Colombia by the other shareholders after leading the company to make huge losses.
The fact that it caused thousands of layoffs and accumulated a billion dollar debt with creditors and employees does not seem to be a problem for Efromovich, who considers himself capable of saving the Italian company.
“I guarantee that Alitalia will be able to fly very far again,” Efromovich told those present at the hearing. And he cited the Colombian Avianca case as proof of that. According to him, when he rescued it before bankruptcy, nobody believed that the company would last more than 30 days, but that it took Avianca to fly to almost 80 destinations and to accumulate a fleet of 200 planes. It is worth remembering that the airline is now again in bankruptcy, sunk in billionaire debts prior to the pandemic.
The businessman also considered the Italian government’s estimate of 3 billion euros to relaunch Alitalia as unrealistic. “Personally, that number doesn’t make sense based on my experience,” he said, and later acknowledged that without having access to the company’s financial data, he couldn’t give his opinion safely. The plot of this story seems familiar.