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Alitalia, Etihad coming close to reaching deal, say sources

Union talks continue on saving jobs in airline pact

13 February, 13:00
Alitalia, Etihad coming close to reaching deal, say sources (ANSA) - Rome, February 13 - Negotiations continued Thursday between struggling Italian flagship airline Alitalia and Etihad Airways, with sources saying the pair was getting close to finalizing a crucial funding deal.

As Alitalia Chief Executive Officer Gabriele Del Torchio was hashing out financial details with his Etihad counterpart James Hogan, union talks also continued.

Alitalia and its unions are said to be negotiating potential layoffs as the Middle Eastern carrier has demanded a more streamlined business plan from Alitalia, while negotiations on salary cuts have been postponed.

Alitalia shareholders have hired Citi as an advisor in talks which could continue until mid-March at the earliest, while Etihad has regained as advisors PricewaterhouseCooper (Pwc) and American consulting firm Booz&Co.

Abu Dhabi's flag carrier, according to the latest reports, is eyeing a 40% stake in troubled Italian carrier Alitalia with an injection of cash of up to 300 million euros. The main issue in talks is Etihad's condition that Alitalia renegotiate some of its the debt, as well as cut payroll costs by potentially as much as 128 million euros.

The talks have also been overshadowed by competitors' complaints of unfair government support.

Germany's largest airline Lufthansa has asked the European Commission to halt the planned investment from the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, alleging it benefits from anti-competitive State aid.

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