Alitalia: Renzi waits for offer, but Etihad seeks answers

CEO meets unions. Lupi denies 3000 layoffs

24 April, 11:11

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 24 - The Italian government is awaiting an offer from Etihad Airways, but the United Arab Emirates airline has asked to see facts achieved before submitting the tender: a solution to the debt issue, additional savings on labour costs, and indemnity on past disputes. Thus screws are likely to tighten on current negotiations between Alitalia and the Arab airline as the time factor becomes increasingly crucial.

    For this reason Alitalia Chief Executive Gabriele Del Torchio yesterday met with union general secretaries. Along with the banks, the unions are counterparties with whom Alitalia must now negotiate to resolve the two main problems (labour costs and debt) that are key to reaching a deal.

    Italian Premier Matteo Renzi via Twitter also addressed the matter, indicating the position of the government.

    ''We are waiting the Etihad offer and then we will act accordingly,'' Renzi tweeted.

    ''First let's see if this marriage is to be done,'' said Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi, explaining that the government is ''carefully'' following negotiations, but letting ''the two companies work''.

    ''We hope an agreement is found,'' Lupi added.

    Lupi defined the agreement as ''strategic'' and provided reassurances on the unlikelihood of more redundancies.

    ''I have never heard talk of 3000 cuts'', Lupi said, denying rumours of a request for layoffs ranging from a minimum of 1000 to a maximum of 3000 units. Negotiations at the moment appear frozen, however. Del Torchio reportedly told unions that the situation with Etihad is neither compromised nor interrupted, but that the Abu Dhabi company's position of would be extremely firm. Before submitting an offer, Etihad wants to see concrete facts: the resumption of union negotiations on the cost of labour (savings fell short 48 million euros after 80 million obtained in a mid-February agreement to 1,900 redundancies); a solution to the debt obstacle (Etihad is asking for the renegotiation of 400 million euros of debt, but banks are not going along, especially Intesa SanPaolo, which has put itself in the way); and a decree for the liberalization of Linate airport slots in Milan. But also hindering negotiations would be Alitalia's disputes with Air One and WindJet, on which Etihad would like guarantees.


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