Italians Impatient With Alitalia Rescue Efforts

Berlusconi's pleas for patriotism fall on deaf ears
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2008 5:33 PM CDT
Italians Impatient With Alitalia Rescue Efforts
The Alitalia Boeing 777-200 plane, with Pope Benedict XVI onboard, leaves the Rome's Leonardo da Vinci international airport Wednesday, May 9, 2007.    (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)

Fed up with government efforts to resuscitate Alitalia, many Italians think Rome needs to face reality and let the airline die, Bloomberg reports. PM Silvio Berluconi characterizes Alitalia’s survival as “a matter of national security,” but it hasn't turned a profit in nearly a decade. The latest plan for Alitalia is a restructuring scheme by Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s second-largest bank.

The country’s largest labor union accuses Berlusconi of exploiting protectionist sentiment: "Alitalia has always been used and abused by politicians for electoral purposes,'' said the union's national secretary. He calls the government’s $473 million bailout plan—which will cost approximately 5 euro per taxpayer—"a drop in the ocean of Alitalia’s losses without a relaunch plan.” (Read more Silvio Berlusconi stories.)

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