Italy allows Alitalia sale for "not less" than 1.052 billion euros

Business Materials 19 November 2008 22:58 (UTC +04:00)

Italy's Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola gave the green light Wednesday for the sale "at not less than 1.052 billion euros" (1.328 billion dollars) of struggling state-controlled carrier Alitalia to an Italian private consortium, dpa reported.

Scajola authorized Alitalia's bankruptcy commissioner, Augusto Fantozzi, providing the government's financial terms are met, to proceed with the "transfer of the airline's assets to the Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI) by December 1," said an Economic Development ministry statement.

"CAI for its part can proceed in choosing a foreign partner that would strengthen the new Alitalia's presence on world markets," the statement said. It was referring to the CAI consortium's stated intention to forge alliances with one or more major international carriers.

The statement also revealed that CAI's bid, which to date had not been made public, amounted to one billion euros.

Wednesday's announcement paves the way for CAI to take over Alitalia and relaunch the carrier which, besides a decrease in bookings, has cancelled over the last week hundreds of flights due to ongoing wildcat strikes and "go slows" by pilots and flight attendants.

CAI, led by motorcycle and scooter maker Piaggio chairman Roberto Colaninno, has said it intends to employ some 12,500 of Alitalia's current workforce of around 17,000.

Those workers set to lose their jobs will receive severance packages, including 80 per cent pay for up to eight years, under a government and labour union brokered deal.

CAI has also mentioned French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM and Germany's Lufthansa as possible partners.

On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said they both backed a deal between Alitalia and Lufthansa.