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Prodi: Alitalia decision won't take into account protests, but will consider national interest

Prodi: Alitalia decision won't take into account protests, but will consider national interest

Premier Romano Prodi dismissed protests over Air France-KLM's bid for ailing national airline Alitalia, saying Tuesday the government would choose between two bidders for the company based solely on business efficiency and Italy's national interests.
At an end-of-the-year news conference, Prodi said the government would decide by mid-January whether to sell its 49.9 percent stake in Alitalia to Air France or Italian airline Air One SpA.
Last week, the Alitalia board tipped Air France as its preferred bidder, sparking protests from officials in northern Italy who oppose its plan to make Rome the nation's only hub at the expense of Milan. Unions have also opposed the Air France plan.
Prodi was asked wither the protests, or calls to keep Alitalia in Italian hands, would be a factor into the government's decision and possibly compel it to reject the Alitalia board recommendation.
The premier said such criteria were not "elements of the decision."
"We must decide so that the company becomes efficient in the market, and I would say, also take into account the interests of the country," he said.
He criticized northern Italian businessmen for their protests, noting that the government had repeatedly asked them to step in to form consortiums to rescue Alitalia and they never came forward.
"We have two prospectives, only two hypotheses. We must choose the best," Prodi said. "I'm sorry, I won't take into account the protests, the interests of a few," he said. "Because Italy has already suffered too much regarding this sector."
The government has been trying to off-load the loss-making Alitalia since last December.


Updated : 2021-04-13 04:03 GMT+08:00