Italy in talks with foreign company to save Alitalia - Berlusconi

Business Materials 8 August 2008 06:52 (UTC +04:00)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday talks were being held with a "large foreign company" about forming an alliance with Alitalia to save the cash-strapped national airline from bankruptcy, the AFP reported.

"We're aiming for Italy to have a profit-making national carrier," Berlusconi told national news channel TG1.

"We have a plan, we have the shareholders, we have the necessary funds, we're talking to a large foreign company to form an alliance that would make a difference internationally," he said.

The Italian government said late last month it had pulled together enough funds to rescue the airline, which has been surviving on a loan of 300 million euros (471 million dollars) made in late April from public funds after talks for an Air France-KLM takeover collapsed.

State-controlled Alitalia employs 11,100 people in airline transportation while 8,300 work in maintenance for AZ Servizi, controlled by a public holding company.

It recorded pre-tax losses of 215 million euros in the first quarter of this year.