Business & Finance

With less than a month of liquidity remaining, executives of Alitalia were to present their make-or-break plan for rescuing the company to skeptical union negotiators as the Monitor went to press. The details, according to the Financial Times, were expected to include a proposal to split the Italian government-owned airline into two companies: AZ Fly, which would handle flight operations, and AZ Service, which would cover such support functions as maintenance and information technology. Alitalia would not confirm news reports or union claims that at least 5,000 of its 19,000 employees stand to lose their jobs under the new strategy. Meanwhile, Italy's largest union, CGIL, has said it will not compromise on "protection of the employees," calling the projected layoffs "not a good starting point." Cimoli was expected to give the unions until next Wednesday to accept the plan. Otherwise, he has said, Alitalia would have to cease operations Sept. 30 due to lack of funds. The European Union has OK'd a $483 million emergency loan from the Rome government to help the almost bankrupt carrier, but only on condition that the unions accept the rescue proposal. Even then, the bailout is not projected to take Alitalia farther than next March, at which point more financial help would be needed, the Financial Times said. EU Transportation Commissioner Loyola de Palacio told journalists over the weekend that layoffs by Alitalia are "inevitable" and said she expects a "sense of responsibility from management and the unions."

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