Berlusconi coins "Love Italy, fly Alitalia" slogan

ROME, April 16 (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's next prime minister and billionaire businessman, on Wednesday told Italians he flew near-bankrupt national carrier Alitalia AZPIa.MI despite owning several private jets.

“This morning I coined a new slogan, and now I’ll let you in on it: ‘I love Italy, I fly Alitalia,’” the prime minister-elect told a news conference.

Berlusconi made Alitalia a key part of his election campaign, attacking its planned takeover by Air France-KLM as a “colonisation” attempt and stressing the need to keep the ailing carrier in Italian hands.

But he has so far failed to convince political rivals that his comments on Alitalia, which have ranged from talk of a rival Italian bid to his sons chipping in to buy the carrier, were anything more than pre-election rhetoric.

Italian newspaper La Stampa last week interviewed the media tycoon on one of his private jets, describing it as fitted out with 48 business seats with Playstation screens. (Writing by Deepa Babington, editing by Will Waterman)