Alitalia, the problem plagued national air carrier of Italy, has just been thrown a massive lifeline by the Abu Dhabi based Middle Eastern mega carrier, Etihad Airways.
The deal itself is still subject to final regulatory approval. If approved, it would give Etihad a whopping forty nine per cent stake in the Italian carrier.
Sources in the current Italian government announced last month that Etihad was looking to invest some 560 million euros in the problem plagued airline now, and a further sum of 600 million euros over the next few years.
If this is the case, it would represent the largest single investment from the Middle East carrier in any other airline, and is quite an act of faith in itself. It also presages a period of massive retrenchment and inevitable job losses at Alitalia. Total redundancies are expected to be around 2,250 people, paring down the Alitalia organisation to a new strength of 11,500 staff.
As the nineteenth largest air passenger carrier in the world, Alitalia is part of the One World Alliance.