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November 20, 2008 - The Italian government has agreed to sell Alitalia's assets to a group of Italian businessmen at a sweetened price, paving the way for the relaunch of the bankrupt carrier in private hands after a two-year hunt for a buyer. Alitalia's best assets will be sold to the CAI consortium for 1.052 billion euros including debt, in line with independent estimates of their worth and slightly higher than the group's 1 billion euro initial offer, the government said on Wednesday. The near conclusion of the deal after Alitalia's tumultuous search for a buyer that included a failed auction and a failed takeover by Air France-KLM is a feather in the cap for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had promised to save Alitalia. The airline filed for bankruptcy in August, weighed down by high labour costs, strikes, surging oil and political meddling. With no other bidders in the fray and Alitalia's cash likely to run out this month, CAI's takeover was never in any danger of being rejected, but there was speculation it could be asked to modify its offer, delaying the airline's restructuring. CAI is also expected to pick either Air France-KLM or Lufthansa as a foreign partner to give Alitalia operational backing and buy a 20 percent stake in the relaunched airline. Italian media have said the French airline is likely to edge out its German rival, but sources close to CAI have cautioned that no decision has been made so far and talks continue.
November 19, 2008 - The administrator overseeing Alitalia's bankruptcy will approve the takeover of the airline by a group of Italian businessmen after getting the green light from the government, he said on Wednesday. Approval from the administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, would pave the way for the Italian national airline to be relaunched in private hands after a difficult two-year hunt for a buyer that at times appeared to doom the airline to liquidation. Fantozzi said he had already received the go-ahead from a committee examining whether the offer by the CAI consortium for Alitalia's assets was in line with market prices. He said only approval from the Italian government, which owns the controlling stake in the airline, was needed now. 'I have the OK from the surveillance committee,' Fantozzi told reporters. 'We'll wait for the OK from the minister, and then I'll accept the offer.' CAI is offering 275 million euros for Alitalia's flight operations and 100 million euros in a mix of cash and debt for other units, and will take on further debt of 625 million euros ($789 million). The group still faces opposition to the deal from Alitalia's pilot and cabin crew unions that reject new labor contracts under the takeover, but CAI is proceeding with the deal anyway. Protesting workers have canceled hundreds of flights over the past 10 days and Fantozzi has said Alitalia will have to cancel 100 flights a day through the end of November.
October 8, 2008 - Alitalia's owners begin talks to sell a stake in the company to Air France-KLM Group or Deutsche Lufthansa, giving one of the carriers a partnership with the airline that will control half of the Italian market. CAI, the Italian investor group led by businessman Roberto Colaninno, meets management of Air France today in Paris and with Lufthansa tomorrow. CAI is leading a state-backed rescue to merge Alitalia's flight business with domestic competitor Air One, leaving the government to liquidate Alitalia's debt and other assets. Alitalia's merger with Air One will boost the new carrier's share of the Italian market to almost 56% from 30% now. CAI intends to bring back some international flights to Milan's Malpensa airport, where Lufthansa already plans to boost its flights from next year.
September 29, 2008 - Italy’s national airline Alitalia has avoided collapse by winning grudging support for an investor bailout from its last two hold-out trade unions. After a series of meeting, the unions representing cabin crew and ground staff, signed the deal. But the head of the Avia trade union, Antonio Divietri, said it was done with a heavy heart: 'We have nothing to celebrate. For us, this is a moment of reflection and painful. One third of our colleagues are going to lose their jobs. So, we have signed this deal just because we are being responsible. Without the agreement of all the unions, the airline would have run out of money very soon.'
September 29, 2008 - A billion-euro rescue plan for Alitalia appeared poised for takeoff on Monday as speculation mounted over which potential foreign partner -- Air France-KLM or Lufthansa -- might lend its muscle to help keep the Italian flagship aloft. Two unions representing flight attendants and ground crew were expected to join the failing airline's seven other unions in backing the plan by the Italian Air Company (CAI) investor group as their leaders went into a morning meeting with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's top aide Gianni Letta. About 90 per cent of the two unions' members favour the deal, the daily La Repubblica reported on Monday. A first breakthrough came on Thursday when Italy's most powerful union, the CGIL, signed on after obtaining last-minute concessions on pay, leave and contractual issues. Then holdout pilots came on board in the early hours of Saturday, leaving the small flight attendants and ground crew unions little choice but to mount a symbolic resistance on Monday.
September 28, 2008 - Alitalia aims to be reborn as a slimmed down airline in just weeks, a government official has said, after once-reluctant pilots' unions agreed to a rescue plan by a group of Italian investors. The breakthrough deal with pilots followed overnight, government-brokered talks and was a major victory for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was elected in April promising to save Alitalia from buckling under massive debt and losses. Remaining hold-out unions at the state-controlled carrier, representing flight attendants, were due to reconvene for talks on Monday and Italian consortium CAI called and officials for the support of all the unions. But government and union officials suggested the rescue plan appeared to have reached the critical mass needed to put the long troubled rescue effort firmly back on track. Under the rescue plan, CAI would snap up the most profitable pieces of Alitalia and relaunch with a fresh cash injection. One of the big remaining questions is which foreign partner CAI will take on as part of the new Alitalia. German airline Lufthansa met Alitalia's unions on Friday to discuss its plans to take a minority stake in the bankrupt airline. Air France-KLM has said it would be ready to invest in a restructured Alitalia with a minority stake.
September 27, 2008 - Alitalia Pilots Agree to Government-Backed CAI Bid.
Italy's national airline, moved a step closer to averting collapse after pilots agreed to a government-backed takeover by a group of business executives. Unions representing most of Alitalia's 2,500 pilots reached an accord with the CAI group led by Roberto Colaninno early today. The Rome-based carrier's ground staff had already approved the plan to eliminate about 3,000 jobs and impose longer hours for the same pay. Flight attendants unions said they are 'making some progress' and will meet with CAI again on Sept. 29. 'The agreement with pilots allows us to look at coming days with great serenity,' Transport Minister Altero Matteoli advised in an interview broadcast today. 'Now we can let planes take off.' Seven of nine Alitalia unions have now signed the agreement, with Sdl and Avia, representing most of the flight attendants, still considering the latest terms.
September 26, 2008 - Alitalia's long-awaited rescue plan was poised for takeoff on Friday as the government struggled to get diehard pilots and flight attendants on board. A fifth union of the nine representing the near-bankrupt airline's workforce signed a government-brokered accord on Friday, its leader Massimo Muccioli said, throwing the spotlight on the other four unions representing some 4,000 crew. Italy's powerful CGIL union dropped its objections to the rescue plan on Thursday, prompting the Italian Air Company (CAI) investor group to revive its billion-euro (1.45 billion dollar) offer for the flag carrier. The deal could go ahead without all unions on board, Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi told the ANSA news agency. Unanimous approval 'would be important ... but I thing CAI can pursue its course in any case,' he said. Meanwhile, with Alitalia's 'Made in Italy' rescue plan within reach, foreign investors Air France-KLM and Lufthansa were showing renewed interest. Air France-KLM, which dropped a takeover bid for Alitalia in April in the face of union resistance, is considering acquiring a 10 to 20 percent stake in the relaunched Alitalia, industry sources said. Under the rescue plan, CAI would take over Alitalia's passenger activities and merge them with Italy's number two airline Air One.
September 26, 2008 - Alitalia, the airline which is struggling to survive, has been given a temporary reprieve by the Italian civil aviation authority. ENAC said it would not revoke Alitalia's licence to fly 'for now' after Italy's biggest union agreed to a revised rescue plan. The authority had threatened to ground Alitalia's planes unless it presented an agreed plan by the end of Thursday. Unions representing pilots and crew are yet to agree to the deal, however. 'For now, the feared risk of yanking the licence isn't there,' said ENAC civil aviation chief Vito Riggio. But he added that ENAC 'will monitor Alitalia's financial situation month by month'. The CGIL union said it had signed an agreement with Alitalia, after winning concessions on pay, leave, contracts and temporary jobs. Four of the nine unions have now agreed to the terms of the rescue deal proposed by investors group CAI. CGIL has urged the remaining five to end their opposition. Alitalia's government-appointed administrator Augusto Fantozzi said ticket sales had fallen by 100,000 in September, hit by the uncertainty surrounding the airline.
September 25, 2008 - There is speculation that Italy’s beleaguered airline Alitalia could be saved at the last minute. The debt-ridden carrier has until Thursday to present a new rescue plan or lose it’s operating licence. And, in an attempt to stave off collapse Italy’s government held a flurry of last ditch meetings. Italian Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi said: 'We’re trying to restart negotiations and reach an a quick agreement, but time is of the essence.' Government officials are hopeful unions will accept a revived deal from the business consortium CAI, which pulled out of talks last week. Head of CGIL Union Guglielmo Epifani said: 'We need a big international backer, because this is what’s happening in the airline industry at the moment. It’s a complicated market that requires international alliances.' It’s also rumoured Air France KLM could rejoin the fray by becoming part of the CAI rescue consortium. Last week, the union representing Alitalia’s pilots and cabin crew, rejected a deal which would have seen more than 3000 job cuts.
September 23, 2008 - Alitalia published a notice on Tuesday in four newspapers (three Italian papers and London’s Financial Times) seeking offers to buy any or all of its assets. The move comes after a group of Italian investors withdrew its offer for Alitalia last week because the group could not come to terms with some of the airline’s unions. The group had planned to invest $1.4 billion in Alitalia, pare unprofitable assets, merge with Italian carrier AirOne and lay off workers. In a news release on its website, Alitalia said it was attempting to 'verify the existence of other interested entities that may guarantee the continuity, in the medium term, of the transportation service.' 'I would say that we have until the end of the week,' administrator Augusto Fantozzi told reporters in Rome on Monday. 'Probably we will have time until next Tuesday, which means in effect that, as of today, Sept. 30 is the last day possible' of operation. Fantozzi told reporters that this month's payroll, due Sept. 27, will use up much of what little cash Alitalia has left. He acknowledged that the airline's chances for survival looked bleak. 'There are no prospects for a rescue in a reasonable time', Fantozzi told reporters.