Air France chief denies Alitalia take-over pact

Air France-KLM has denied negotiating a secret pact to acquire control of Alitalia at some future date, the French group’s chairman said in an interview in Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

“There is no secret pact, no side letter,” Jean Cyril Spinetta was quoted as saying.Spinetta said that as a listed company the new take-over consortium CAI would not have the right to sign any such secret agreement with CAI.

Asked whether Air France intended to increase its stake in Alitalia, Spinetta said the agreement allowed the Italian investors to buy out the French carrier if they so wished, through the exercise of a call option.

“We are engaged, the idea of marriage could happen but separation could too. We can’t talk of divorce since we are not married yet,” he said.

Spinetta said combining smaller Italian airline Air One into the group had been a winning strategic move.

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He said the CAI consortium had decided the new Alitalia could use Milan’s Malpensa airport as a base if the city’s other airport, Linate, was dedicated to domestic flights only. Otherwise it would use Rome’s Fiumicino as its base.
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