In a controversial measure, the airline Alitalia canceled all tickets issued in Argentina to fly after October 15 and also will not reschedule flights. In turn, the refund of the amount of the tickets purchased will be only in pesos and taking the exchange rate existing at the time they were purchased.
The sudden decision was revealed by sources consulted from the Argentine Federation of Travel and Tourism Business Associations (Faevyt), which on Monday met with Tommaso Fumelli, Alitalia’s country manager for Argentina and Chile.
For this reason, Faevyt is evaluating the possibility of taking legal action against the Italian company. They also indicated that their lawyers will prepare a report to determine the steps to follow in order to protect the interests of passengers who have reservations with Alitalia and the travel agencies they represent.
In this sense, the federation spokesmen affirmed: “We believe that if we leave the issue to agreements between private parties, the chances of success are slim.” However, they do not rule out the intervention of a state agency such as the National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC).
This is because although the company is going to change its name to ITA and will belong entirely to the Italian State, there is continuity because it maintains the company number with the International Air Transport Association (IATA for its acronym in English).
A large number of passengers had been able to exchange their tickets for the dollar vouchers that the airline at the time offered as a result of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. But now they will not be able to do the same, and on top of that the return of the money will be in national currency. A measure by which the amount received locally will have suffered the effects of devaluation and inflation in Argentina.
Alitalia, founded in 1946 and based in Fiumicino, was one of the first airlines in the world to suffer the devastating consequences that the pandemic caused globally within the commercial aviation market. In March of last year the Italian government announced that it had plans to nationalize the firm, since it had accumulated losses for years and was already under administrative supervision.
From that moment, the Italian authorities searched unsuccessfully for a buyer but Covid-19 struck the final blow. Now, the nationalization of the traditional airline, which will officially take effect on October 15, has unexpected implications in Argentina.