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Alitalia CEO 'optimistic' over possible Etihad deal

Italian carrier still on brink of collapse after State bailout

13 January, 18:19
Alitalia CEO 'optimistic' over possible Etihad deal (ANSA) - Fiumicino, January 13 - Alitalia CEO Gabriele Del Torchio on Monday said he is upbeat about a possible deal with United Arab Emirates carrier Etihad Airways.

"We are in the exploratory phase, but if well begun is half done, then I am optimistic," Del Torchio said.

Etihad in December confirmed it was in talks to buy a 49% stake in Italy's cash-strapped national carrier, equal to a much-needed capital injection of 350 million euros.

The Italian carrier received a 75-million-euro capital injection from State-owned post office Poste Italiane in December as part of a government-engineered 500-million-euro rescue package.

Alitalia could need another capital increase to keep running if its business plan does not bring rapid results and Etihad opts out of the deal, sources said.

After buying 29% of Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, in 2011, Etihad has taken stakes in carriers across the world, including Air Serbia, Aer Lingus, Darwin Airlines, Virgin Australia, Jet Airways and Air Seychelles.