Italy’s government has indicated that it will renationalise struggling flag-carrier Alitalia as part of a broad set of emergency measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The government says, in a decree published on 16 March, that the epidemic is being formally recognised as a “natural disaster and exceptional event”.

It states that, given the damage to the entire aviation sector resulting from this event, public-service measures will compensate and allow the continuation of activities.

“The establishment of a new company is authorised, entirely controlled by the ministry of economy and finance,” it adds, in reference to the situation facing Alitalia and its regional CityLiner division, both of which are in extraordinary administration.

This new company could alternatively be controlled by an organisation with “predominantly public participation”, the decree says.

Alitalia’s business activities were recently put up for sale by the company’s commissioner. The decree says the commissioner will be authorised to carry out any necessary actions, until the transfer of the businesses, to implement the rules.