Well today comes the reassuring news that Alitalia's own chairman, Maurizio Prato believes the organisation is 'comatose'. (We hope this doesn't apply to the pilots grasping the joystick.) Snr Prato says that he cannot repay the more than one billion euros his airline has illegally been loaned by the Italian state over recent years. An auction for the Italian government's 49.9% stake in the airline collapsed in farce in July when none of the would-be bidders was allowed to look in detail at the books which are a sea of red ink.
Confidence wasn't helped when the Italian government infrastructure minister, Antonio di Pietro, a famous ex-magistrate who is big on prosecuting crime, described what he was trying to sell as 'a diseased limb that had to be amputated'. Not exactly an epithet to get potential buyers - who even included Aeroflot - running for the emergency exits.
Although its own restrictive practices, bolshie unions and high costs have led to its undoing, one factor that has sealed Alitalia's death warrant is Ryanair which has ripped the domestic Italian market to pieces. One of the Irish outfit's planes even has 'Arrivederci, Alitalia!' scribbled along the fuselage.