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Alitalia deal with unions aims to avoid layoffs

Trimming hours of work to help airline maintain jobs

14 February, 17:22
Alitalia deal with unions aims to avoid layoffs (Updates previous) (ANSA) - Rome, February 14 - Alitalia reached a deal with its workers to avert as many as 1,900 redundancy, unions said Friday.

Following overnight negotiating sessions, they said that "all the workers will remain inside the productive cycle" at the troubled Italian flag-carrier, which is close to a deal with Etihad Airways that would bring a much-needed financial boost to Alitalia.

The deal with unions will further help pave the way to the investment arrangement, as Etihad wants to see a better business plan from the Italian carrier including reduced labour costs.

The labour arrangement will see Alitalia reduce the working hours of a percentage of staff, meaning many can keep their jobs even though the reduced hours will mean reduced pay.

Other positions will be rotated with temporary layoffs.

Meanwhile, Alitalia Chief Executive Officer Gabriele Del Torchio emerged from meetings with his Etihad counterpart James Hogan to reassure Italians that his company intends to "enhance" and not abandon Milan's Malpensa airport.

Some regional politicians, particularly the Northern League, had been outraged by rumours suggesting that Malpensa might be sacrificed in restructuring.

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 has been 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, alleging Etihad benefits from anti-competitive State aid.