Alitalia (AZA, Rome Fiumicino) officially put its brand up for sale on Saturday, September 18, with a base price of EUR290 million euros (USD340 million) plus taxes. It is part of the process of handing over operations to the new, state-owned ITA - Italia Trasporto Aereo (Milan Linate), which plans to buy the brand via the public tender.

The European Commission has insisted on the open tender, rather than a direct handover, in exchange for Brussels giving Rome the green light to inject at least EUR1.35 billion (USD1.58 billion) into the new carrier, which is due to start operating flights in place of Alitalia from October 15.

ITA and any other potential buyers now have until midnight Italian time (2200Z) on September 30 to present their offers for the brand of Alitalia, which marked the 75th anniversary of its founding on September 16.

In the ten-page tender document, the bankrupt company’s three extraordinary commissioners, Gabriele Fava, Giuseppe Leogrande, and Daniele Umberto Santosuosso, said that “individual enterprises or corporations of any nationality having a net worth at the date of submission of the admission request of not less than EUR200 million [USD235 million] and holding air transport operating licences or air operator certifications may apply for admission to the Data Room.”

Experts told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that they consider the starting sum to be high since the latest technical reports attribute a value of EUR145-150 million (USD170-176 million) to the logo. Unnamed ministerial sources told the daily they expect most of the requests to arrive as a disruptive manoeuvre to force the newco to spend more.

According to the document, two days after submitting their offers, bidders will be told if they meet the requirements, after which a first phase of binding offer submissions will take place, to arrive by 1400L (1200Z) on October 4. If the first phase is devoid of offers at that point, the price would drop. If a second phase ending three days later still fails to receive binding offers, the commissioners “will then proceed with the sale of the brand without any procedural constraints to the economic operator identified by them.”

ITA is keen not to overpay to take over the Alitalia name, Alfredo Altavilla, the newco’s executive chairman, recently told unions. But the acquisition of the brand is seen as the most important step in the launch of ITA’s operations - due to start just days later with 52 aircraft in the Alitalia livery. If the company fails to win the tender, it cannot technically launch using that name and those colours.