Air France CEO open to Alitalia merger: TV
PARIS (Reuters) - Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) is open to giving struggling Italian carrier Alitalia its rightful role in a merged entity but only if certain conditions are met, its chief executive told French television.
Alitalia, which recently got shareholder approval for a 300 million-euro ($409.92 million) capital increase to help keep the near-bankrupt carrier flying, needs deeper restructuring if Air France is to eventually hike its 25 percent stake and take control, Alexandre de Juniac told LCI on Thursday.
"There needs to be a vigorous industrial restructuring of Alitalia and a significant financial overhaul...We don't have the means to spend money carelessly," he said.
Commenting on a possible takeover, he added: "The integration of Alitalia would allow Alitalia its rightful role, like Air France-KLM's, but this can only be done under certain conditions."
Alitalia has not made a profit for more than a decade and the 300 million-euro cash call - which Air France approved - is seen as only a stop-gap solution before talks on a possible tie-up between Alitalia and Air France.
But while analysts have seen the logic of an Air France takeover that would clear out the entire Alitalia back-office structure, Rome and unions are likely to oppose severe cost cuts and job losses.
(Reporting by Lionel Laurent and Noelle Mennella; Editing by John Irish)
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