28 APRIL 2014

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Article from BTNews 28 APRIL 2014

Etihad and Alitalia

Whilst there is still no firm news on the potential investment by Etihad Airways into Alitalia the project is far from dead with a go-ahead possible at any time.

Loss-making Alitalia was kept afloat by a government-engineered €500m rescue package last year but needs to find a cash-rich partner quickly to revamp its flight network or risk having to ground its planes.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has been looking at Alitalia's books for a possible investment since early this year, but the prospect of heavy job cuts at Alitalia and its debts have been major hurdles in the talks and Etihad's stance appears to have hardened in recent weeks.

Any large job cuts are likely to stir opposition from Italy's powerful unions. However, the head of the UIL, one of the main Alitalia unions, said his group is prepared to negotiate.

"We are willing to do our part to get to an agreement," UIL's Luigi Angeletti said in an interview with RaiNews24. After speaking to Alitalia's CEO, Angeletti confirmed that staff costs and the airline's debt were the main stumbling blocks in the talks. www.etihad.com  www.alitalia.com

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