labels: News reports, Government / regulatory, Air France KLM
Rome, Alitalia unions want Air France-KLM to come back to table news
05 April 2008

Rome: With the Air France-KLM Group washing their hands off their offer to take over Alitalia the Italian government and the airline's unions both have signalled that hey would like the Group to return to the negotiating table.

Out going prime minister Romano Prodi, who had extended his full support to the deal before he stepped down as the country's premier to face elections said. ''I hope good sense will prevail and the negotiations can resume."

After an emergency meeting, the Italian government, which wants to divest its 49.9 per cent stake in the airline, said it would try to determine whether any chance of an agreement remained with Air France-KLM. 

AF-KLM chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta rejected proposals presented by the unions on Wednesday leading to the collapse of negotiations.

The unions, held responsible for the breakdown in talks, made soothing sounds on Thursday after having decried the ""arrogance"" of the Air France-KLM ""take-it-or-leave-it"" approach earlier.

Eight of the nine unions representing Alitalia's 11,000-strong work force on Thursday voiced a willingness to deal with Air France-KLM or any other potential investor. Secretary general Luigi Angeletti of the ninth union, UIL, repeated his view that the deal should wait until after the elections.

Also on Thursday, some 300 Alitalia workers staged a sit-in outside the airline's headquarters to support Air France-KLM proposals.

Meanwhile, Alitalia's board of directors which met Thursday decided to replace Alitalia's chairman Maurizio Prato, who resigned when talks between the airline's unions and AF-KLM collapsed. A company statement said it had chosen Aristide Police, a 39-year-old lawyer and lecturer, a specialist in public law and administration and also a member of the Alitalia board.

The airline's board also said in its statement that it would review its finances in the coming days to determine whether it could afford to remain in business.

The board maintained that the AF-KLM deal remains "suitable to ensure Alitalia can return to profitable growth," and that it would "evaluate the existence of the necessary conditions to continue doing business" at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

Alitalia is losing about one million euros ($1.6 million) a day. At the end of February, Alitalia said it had 180 million euros ($282 million) in the bank. In March, it managed to raise another 148 million euros through tax credits, and also by selling its two per cent stake in Air France.

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Rome, Alitalia unions want Air France-KLM to come back to table