Italy minister says expects Air France to up role in Alitalia

MILAN Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:23am EDT

An Alitalia jet takes off over another three parked at Fiumicino airport in Rome December 23, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

An Alitalia jet takes off over another three parked at Fiumicino airport in Rome December 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Helgren

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MILAN (Reuters) - Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) will strengthen its role in Italian airline Alitalia SpA CAITLA.UL, Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi said on Monday.

"I expect that Air France will strongly reaffirm that Alitalia is a strategic asset for Air France, and therefore that there will be a strengthening of Air France's role," Lupi said at the margins of an industry conference in Milan.

Air France-KLM owns 25 percent of the loss-making Alitalia following the Italian firm's rescue from bankruptcy in 2008, and media reports have predicted the Franco-Dutch group will decide what to do with its stake in the coming week.

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Naomi O'Leary)

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