Air France-KLM Pulls Offer for Alitalia

Berlusconi scrambles as bankruptcy looms for Italian carrier
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2008 6:37 AM CDT
Air France-KLM has abandoned an offer that might have saved Alitalia, the struggling Italian airline.    (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri, File)
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(Newser) – Air France-KLM has withdrawn its offer to buy Alitalia, leaving the cash-poor Italian carrier with few options. In a tersely worded statement, the world's largest airline said its Alitalia overture—which had been opposed by Alitalia's unions—was "no longer valid." With no suitors forthcoming and cash reserves dwindling—the airline loses $1.6 million a day—Alitalia may be forced to declare bankruptcy, writes the Wall Street Journal.

The withdrawal of Air France's offer calls the bluff of Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi, who had threatened to block the sale during the Italian election campaign. The collapse of Italy's national carrier would be a political nightmare for Berlusconi's center-right political alliance. About 18,000 people work for the airline, of which the government owns a 49.9% stake.