Alitalia to lose 200 mln euros in 2009-CEO

ROME, March 3 (Reuters) - Italian airline Alitalia, which was privatised and relaunched in January, expects to lose 200 million euros this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The airline, which is now a slimmed-down carrier with a smaller capacity owned by a group of Italian investors and Air France-KLM AIRF.PA, was on track to losing 1 billion euros on an operating basis in 2008, the commissioner overseeing its bankruptcy has previously said.

Alitalia’s passenger numbers dropped sharply after its January relaunch but the situation has improved since then, CEO Rocco Sabelli said at a conference.

“We had a terrible first three to four weeks,” he said, adding that the airline did not cancel any flights despite the fall in bookings.

“After those terrible three weeks we began to do better even if we’re not filling the aircraft as much as we would like,” he said.

Air France-KLM has a 25 percent stake in Alitalia.

Reporting by Alberto Sisto