Italy holds airline to ransom over pay cuts

The
Italian Government has warned Alitalia’s
unions that the airline could go bankrupt within a month if they do not agree
to wage cuts.

Transport
minister Pietro Lunardi told the unions that
22,000 workers could lose their jobs, and said the government had done
"all it could".

His
comments came as Alitalia
managers prepared for talks with union representatives. The airline is
currently surviving on government loans.

In
June, the Italian Government approved a state-guaranteed loan of €400m (£268m)
to Alitalia, which is 62
per cent state-owned.

Lunardi urged the unions "to
take a step back" from the brink.

Analysts
said they were not sure whether the government was bluffing, or genuinely
prepared to let the company follow failed European airlines Swiss Air and
Sabena into bankruptcy.

By Mike Berry 

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