Italy seeks Alitalia sale, rules out rescue

ROME: Italy’s centre-left government said on Wednesday Alitalia would be sold to the “highest bidder”, again ruling out a state rescue as fears mounted that the troubled airline is plummeting towards bankruptcy.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he had been disappointed by staff’s rejection of a rescue plan involving deep job and salary cuts, and reiterated that the state could not and would not step in.
“The truth is what I said before the vote and what I say again today: the conditions are not there for Alitalia to be nationalised,” Gentiloni said. Transport Minister Graziano Delrio meanwhile said the company would be “sold to the highest bidder” and the government made favourable noises about the mooted possibility of a partial takeover by Germany’s Lufthansa.
The loss-making national carrier’s future is up in the air after its workforce rejected a restructuring plan which management had presented as the only alternative to bankruptcy.
Etihad Airways, which owns a 49 per cent stake in Alitalia, and other shareholders had made staff acceptance of the plan a precondition for their participation in a two-billion-euro recapitalisation plan involving a combination of loans and new shareholder financing. — AFP