The troubled Italian airline is on the verge of being bailed out after years of financial difficulty, with Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates set to take a 49-percent stake in the company. While the reports have yet to be confirmed by the parties involved, Reuters cites multiple inside sources in revealing that the airline's board met last week and agreed to appoint Montezemolo as chairman, with current Etihad chief James Hogan to act as chief executive officer.
Montezemolo, of course, long served as chairman of Ferrari, having assumed leadership of the company not long after founder Enzo Ferrari died. He also served as chairman of the Fiat group for several years after the passing of Umberto Agnelli, and has headed numerous trade organizations and sporting bodies. But his tenure at Ferrari and the broader Fiat Chrysler Automobiles empire came to an end two months ago when clashes with Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne saw Montezemolo step down.
Etihad sponsored the Scuderia for several seasons stretching back to 2008, following the airline's split with the Spyker team it title-sponsored until Vijay Mallya of rival Kingfisher Airlines took over the team and rebranded it Force India. For its part, Alitalia famously sponsored the Stratos which Lancia fielded in the World Rally Championship in the 1970s, shortly after Fiat had taken over both Lancia and Ferrari and brought it under its expanding umbrella.