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Alitalia needs strong partner to be world player, says Lupi

Northern League threatens 'war' if Milan airport cut out of deal

05 February, 16:56
Alitalia needs strong partner to be world player, says Lupi (ANSA) - Rome, February 5 - Italy's flagship carrier Alitalia needs a strong partner if it is to be a major international player, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said Wednesday.

And a business connection with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways could provide the right opportunity, he added.

"We need a great partner to return to being players on the world stage," said Lupi, who also denounced complaints of unfair competition lodged earlier by German-based carrier Lufthansa.

Lupi said that simply showed that the German airline, which has complained of the potential deal to the European Commission, was afraid of a strong rival.

Etihad Airways is reportedly in the final stages of making a significant investment in troubled Alitalia.

Meanwhile, the governor the regionalist Northern League, said he feared such a deal would lead to the closure of Milan's Malpensa international airport and demanded guarantees it be protected.

Otherwise, said Maroni, "there will be war".

In response, Lupi said that a hook-up between Alitalia and Etihad "must be developed" in a manner that protects jobs and improves the market share while providing "benefits to the entire national system, even in the north and Malpensa airport".