Alitalia has filed for bankruptcy protection in a US court, temporarily safeguarding its stateside operations and assets from creditors as it is offered for sale in Italy.
US bankruptcy judge Sean Lane granted the Italian flag carrier a restraining order for 10 days until 23 June, court documents show. The order will automatically be extended to 26 June unless creditors object.
A hearing for Alitalia's preliminary injunction application will take place on 26 June in New York.
The airline is seeking Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection – which allows foreign companies access to US bankruptcy courts – for its leased gates at several US airports and its 36-employee operation in the USA.
Alitalia's attorneys argue that its US business is "critical to its overall global operations" and needs to be protected. The airline operates nine flights per day between the USA and Italy.
The operator of New York JFK airport's Terminal 1 had notified Alitalia that its lease and contract would be ended on 13 June if it did not pay its bills, says the airline. Its US telecommunications provider meanwhile gave notice that its telephone and internet services would be terminated on 20 June.
US flights generate about 30% of Alitalia's overall revenues, the SkyTeam carrier states in its court-filed petition. At least 15% of the airline's global revenues are contributed by flights to JFK.