From the Economist:
WHAT price patriotism? In the case of Alitalia, Italy’s long-crippled flag-carrier, the answer is about €5 billion ($7.3 billion)—or some €125 for every one of Italy’s 40m taxpayers. Even before the operation mounted by Silvio Berlusconi’s government to preserve the airline’s Italianita, €3 billion of public money had gone into it. The rescue, known as Operation Phoenix, will funnel Alitalia’s €1.2 billion debts and its least profitable bits into a “bad company” that is dumped on the Italian treasury. A report by the Bruno Leoni Institute, a liberal think-tank, concludes that “altogether, the cost to the state could reach almost €2 billion.” But press estimates have ranged a lot higher, and many details remain undecided.
All this should be of keen interest to the European Commission. However, one of Mr Berlusconi’s first moves was to secure the transport portfolio there for a supporter, Antonio Tajani. Some of Alitalia’s rivals may yet complain to Brussels. But even before Mr Colaninno had arrived to explain Operation Phoenix, Mr Tajani had praised it for “favouring the [free] market and the principle of competition.”