Alitalia rescue efforts strengthen - Air France – KLM to take 20 per cent

Alitalia's rescue plan seems to be back on, rescuing the Italian flag carrier from what Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had last week called the ''edge of an abyss".

Under the revived rescue plan, Air France-KLM plans to acquire up to 20 per cent of the new Alitalia SpA pitching in €200 million to the €1 billion that Italian investor group CAI is ready to put into Alitalia, according to reports in the Italian media.

The reports say that an informal discussion over the deal has taken place, between Paris and the Compagnia Aerea Italian (CAI.), the group of investors who are prepared to take over the assets of Alitalia.

CAI's investors include Italian entrepreneur Roberto Colaninno, controlling shareholder of scooter maker Piaggio SpA, the Benetton family, and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, one of Italy's largest banks and the architect of the rescue plan.

CAI announced yesterday that it was reviving its bid to rescue the airline on account of a course correction by CGIL, Alitalia's largest union representing most of its ground workers.

That announcement also reassured Italian civil aviation authority ENAC, which too said that it was satisfied that Alitalia's rescue was back on track, and rescinded its threat to strip the airline of its operating license "for the time being."

CGIL has decided to drop its earlier stand that opposed the CAI deal and has agreed to concessions, including over 3,000 job cuts.