Very few airlines purchase aircraft with cash, most are financed.
Even if an airline is losing money like Alitalia; being the international flag carrier of one of the world's top economies does carry some financial clout, it might however come with a heavy interest penalty, but would not preclude it from acquiring aircraft....Especially when it's the Republic of Italy on the hook for the purchase, but that is changing.
Because in addition, on Friday, the Italian government has said it will reduce its hold on the 49% controlling share in the airline, down to less than 25%...one of the things that barred any serious interest in the airline up to now. (Labor issues being another.)
International Herald Tribune Article
The Italian government said Friday that it would sell about half of its 49.9 percent stake in Alitalia and cede management control, a step that could help prepare the country's unprofitable flagship carrier to be taken over by Air France-KLM.
This latest bit of news might very well trump the information in Airliners as the article in all reality was written months ago.
Whoever buys that 24% or so, could very well cancel the order.
Lets wait and see. I personally, hope they get the 777s.