Alitalia announced as preferred strategic partner for Air Malta

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Alitalia announced as preferred strategic partner for Air MaltaAir Malta has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alitalia, the Government's preferred strategic partner for Malta's national airline, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis announced today.

Minister Zammit Lewis underlined that if this acquisition were to materialise, the Government would remain the majority shareholder and the airline's name would remain Air Malta. The Memorandum of Understanding will open the door for negotiations for the acquisition of a 49% stake in Air Malta.

After months of negotiations with various airlines, the Government has now decided to take the discussions to the next level with Alitalia, the Minister said.

"This is one step of the process and there is still a long way to go. The signing of this MOU means that we will cease talks with other airlines and start more detailed discussions with Alitalia," said Dr Zammit Lewis.

Alitalia's CEO Cramer Ball said, "we are on track to become a profitable entity by 2017 and we need to look and plan for the future, which is why we have decided to look closely to see whether Air Malta can fit into our strategic growth, particularly how our networks can complement each other in areas such as southern Italy."

Dr Zammit Lewis said the Government would ensure that all milestones were communicated to stakeholders, employees and the general public.

"This was the first milestone and therefore we are making this announcement. The MoU document will be tabled in parliament on the 25th of May, once the confidentiality period agreed between both parties expires," added Dr Zammit Lewis.

In the meantime, talks with unions will continue as planned with President Emeritus Dr. George Abela and Maria Micallef co-chairing the committee that has been entrusted by the Government to negotiate the new collective agreements with the workers' representatives.

"The Government is committed to ensuring that the Air Malta employees have a future," Zammit Lewis insisted.

Chairperson Maria Micallef added that the MOU was signed after in-depth discussions confirmed the natural benefit that would arise by this strategic partnership. From a technical and network point of view there is a natural fit as the networks of Air Malta and Alitalia compliment each other.

She also highlighted several other commercial advantages for Air Malta if this deal were to materialise, such as the financial benefit of joint-procurement, access to better IT systems, and other synergies that would boost profitability and growth, while reducing Air Malta's current vulnerability due to its lack of economies of scale.

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