Italians Fuss Over Airline Takeover

Lobbyists take nationalist stance against deal with Air France-KLM
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2007 2:20 PM CST
A passenger looks at the Alitalia electronic check-in machine at the Linate airport in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, July 18, 2007. The Italian government said Wednesday that it was pressing on with its troubled...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – News that Italy's national airline, Alitalia, is in danger of being taken over by Air France-KLM, the world's biggest airline by revenue, has sparked outrage among Italian interests who fear their local carrier will be stripped of major routes. The government promises to decide Alitalia's fate by mid-January, as politicians and labor leaders urge Rome to reject the offer.

Alitalia is hemorraghing 1M euros a day, and Air France-KLM has made the biggest offer, vowing to invest 6.5 billion euros into the airline while maintaining an extensive network of routes in Italy. But many Italians are zealous about keeping the airline at home. "If Rome declares our death, we will try at least to die standing," said a protester who plans to block the road to Milan's airport.