It would appear that the inevitable has finally happened, with the announcement by Alitalia's board, after a shareholder meeting held today, that they have formally requested that the company be placed into administration and either sold or liquidated.
For Alitalia this has been a long time in the making, with Italy's flag-carrying airline showing a reversal in its fortunes after Etihad acquired a 49 per cent stake in December 2014. Having been privatised by the Italian government in December 2008, the company has subsequently been linked with a number of airlines, including fellow Sky Team members Air France and KLM, and non-Sky Team airlines such as Ryanair and Emirates. However, Alitalia's legacy cost base and heavily unionised work force from its days of being a government-run national flag-carrier have left it unable to negotiate substantial cost reductions and redundancies. Add into the mix the continued rise of the low-cost budget airlines flying into Rome, its main hub, and the writing really was on the wall.
At this point there doesn't seem to be a clear view as to whether a sale will be achieved or whether the company will be liquidated, but given the company lost its CEO, Silvano Cassano, for personal reasons a few months after Etihad's acquisition and attempted turnaround plan and now just over two years later Etihad appears to be throwing in the towel, I don't personally see it. That said, if the right concessions could be agreed it wouldn't surprise me if Michael O'Leary of Ryanair appeared from somewhere to influence the outcome of Alitalia.