Time up for Lufthansa over Alitalia deal, says Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said time has run out for Lufthansa to make a bid for reshaped Alitalia, paving the way for Air France-KLM to take a 25 percent stake in the relaunched carrier.
“I don’t think there’s any more time for Lufthansa to insert itself in talks between Alitalia and Air France-KLM,” Berlusconi told a conference at the weekend. “In my opinion, the deal with Air France-KLM is favourable for Alitalia. Lufthansa never put forward concrete proposals, not even in a letter to (Alitalia Chairman Roberto) Colaninno.”
Alitalia has been in talks with Air France since the beginning of last year as part of its attempt to partner with an international player. Executives at the new take-over CAI have expressed their preference for Air France to Berlusconi and were told there were no objections from the government. It is understood Air France would pay 300 million euros.
A deal with Air France could see a change of corporate culture at Alitalia, which has been very resilient to making jobs cuts despite its crippling losses.
Despite the new owners, strikes continue by Alitalia workers. Last week they forced the cancellation of 114 flights to and from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
The action by workers fearful of losing their jobs when the airline is relaunched tomorrow.
The deal to acquire Alitalia’s passenger operations for 1.052 billion euros involves merging the airline with domestic rival Air One.
Ditching unprofitable routes, the new Alitalia will serve 23 domestic and 47 international destinations, of which 13 will be intercontinental. The new Alitalia will operate 670 flights a day, compared with 1,050 previously.
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