Air France-KLM's tensions with Alitalia over its belief that the Italian airline's restructuring plans do not go far enough have been further underlined by the emergence of a letter from the minority shareholder's chief executive, highlighting concerns.
Italian daily Il Messaggero quotes a letter reportedly written by Air France-KLM chief Alexandre de Juniac to Alitalia president Roberto Colaninno on 18 October. Therein, de Juniac says the business plan Alitalia unveiled in July was "too optimistic", and complains that Air France-KLM's concerns and recommendations on this were not taken into consideration.
Air France-KLM holds a 25% stake in its Italian joint-venture partner, but it is unclear if it will take part in Alitalia's €300 million ($413 million) vital capital increase to keep its stake at that level. The carrier is seen as the most likely long-term strategic investor in Alitaila, but speculation has been rife that it wants deeper restructuring at its Italian partner before investing further. Air France-KLM has previously said any investment would have to have "strict conditions" attached.
In the letter, de Juniac reportedly hits out at the lack of consultation and investment Air France-KLM – Alitalia's biggest shareholder and strategic partner – had in the recent negotiations between shareholders and banks ahead of agreement on Alitalia's rescue deal, and the lack of time it has had to consider these plans.
He goes on to say that his airline wants to remain an "important partner" of Alitalia, but that it needs to be sure any solution for the Italian carrier is long-term and sustainable and supported by a "realistic financial plan", including restructuring of debt.