Italian government to meet Alitalia unions on French takeover bid
The outgoing Italian government met on Thursday with the unions representing the failing airline's 11,000-strong work force.
ROME, April 11, 2008 - The outgoing Italian government met on Thursday with the unions representing the failing airline's 11,000-strong work force to discuss how to entice Air France-KLM to revive its takeover bid, withdrawn last week.
The airline is rapidly running out of cash on hand and faces almost certain
bankruptcy if the European giant does not come back to the table.
Tense negotiations ended dramatically last week when Air France-KLM
chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta withdrew the airline's offer after the unions
asked that Alitalia conserve all of its operations.
Alitalia chairman Maurizio Prato resigned in frustration.
On Monday, Air France-KLM said its offer for Alitalia was the only one
capable of returning the struggling airline to profitable growth and it was
now up to the unions and workers to decide the way forward.
Now it appears that the hard-bargaining unions are ready to soften.
Raffaele Bonnani, head of the CISL union, asserted on Monday that Spinetta
"did not sever contact," telling the daily La Repubblica: "We are only at the
start of negotiations."
Another union, the FILT-CGIL, said in a statement that it did not rule out
Alitalia's board said it had some 170 million euros (267 million dollars)
in the bank as of the end of March.
The outgoing centre-left government of Romano Prodi has been struggling to
sell the government's 49.9-percent stake in the loss-making company before
Italy's fast-approaching elections on Sunday and Monday.
The plight of the airline, which is losing about one million euros (1.6
million dollars) a day, has been a central issue in an otherwise lacklustre
Conservative candidate Silvio Berlusconi has repeatedly insisted that an
all-Italian alternative to the Air France-KLM takeover is possible.