Alitalia boss leans to AirFrance-KLM bid
In an interview Alitalia boss gave his implicit backing to an Air France-KLM rescue package
ROME, December 10, 2007 (AFP) - The head of troubled Italian airline Alitalia gave his implicit backing to an Air France-KLM rescue package, in an interview Saturday with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Both Air France-KLM, a historic ally of Alitalia, and the Italian company
Air One expressed their interest in the firm on Thursday.
"The bottom line of their plan is that there will still be an Alitalia,"
Maurizio Prato told the newspaper, referring to the Air France-KLM plan.
Air France-KLM have made it clear they wish to concentrate Alitalia's core
business around Rome's Fiumicino airport -- at the expense of Milan's Malpensa -- which closely follows Prato's own survival plan devised in September.
In addition, Prato added that "for Air One, apart from a statement of
principles" on the two airports, and "a renovation and increase in the fleet,
there remains much to be fathomed from their working outline."
Prato specified that the purchase of the State's 49.9 percent share in
Alitalia would form the basis of any take-over bid, and underlined that the
decision on a bidder to be taken next week by the company's board would take into account "industrial, financial and technical considerations."
He also pointed out that the government still had the right to reject any
bid accepted by the board of Alitalia.
But he remained relatively optimistic that the outcome of the process would
allow Alitalia to avoid bankruptcy: "We have on the table [offers from] the
world-leading group (Air France-KLM) and Italy's second firm, so I'm crossing
Italian Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi meanwhile told ANSA news
agency he would be meeting with trade unions next week, because "the workers are a large part of the industrial plan" affecting the firm.
Alitalia employs around 11,260 people and the unions fear job losses.