AF-KLM to compromise on Alitalia freighters

AIR France-KLM has offered to extend operations of Alitalia’s freighter unit in a bid to win backing from unions for its planned takeover of the Italian airline. AF-KLM will meet union leaders Tuesday, following its announcement last week that it would shut down Alitalia’s freighter business in a bid to return the airline to profitability by 2011.

The carrier is now offering to keep three of Alitalia’s five MD-11 freighters flying until the summer of 2010 on long-haul routes to Asia and North America.

Alitalia’s freighter fleet posted losses of 71 million euros [$109 million] on revenues of $344 million in 2007.

Air France-KLM set a 31 March deadline for Alitalia to accept its $215-million takeover offer. However former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is standing in next month’s election, said he will reject the deal if he is re-elected next month. He called the Air France bid an “arrogant French offer”.

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