Air France-klm May Help Alitalia Under Conditions: Report

An Alitalia plane passes an Air France plane on the tarmac of Charles de Gaulles International Airport in Roissy near Paris, January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Italy’s government and Alitalia shareholders have been betting on Air France-KLM raising its stake from 25 percent and possibly even taking control of the company. But there are disagreements over financial commitments and a possible business strategy for the Italian group should a merger go ahead, sources familiar with the matter said. “Our conditions for helping Alitalia are very strict. If the conditions are met, I am ready to go ahead,” Air France-KLM Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac told French daily Les Echos on Tuesday, without giving more details on the terms he had in mind. Gilberto Benetton, who invests in Alitalia via motorway group Atlantia’s 8.9 percent stake in the airline, said earlier on Tuesday he would welcome Air France-KLM taking control of the group, but warned Italy’s interests should be protected first. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, other ministers, banks and Alitalia’s management met on Tuesday to find a way of beefing up Alitalia’s finances to give it greater negotiating clout in its dealings with Air France-KLM. But the talks failed to reach any decision because of the uncertain political climate and another meeting was called for next week. There are worries that any Air France-KLM investment would clash with Italy’s ambition to make Rome a hub for intercontinental flights, and instead turn Alitalia into a regional player and trigger job cuts. But de Juniac’s comments signaled he did not doubt Alitalia’s ability to operate on long-haul routes – a strategy the group is betting on to revive its fortunes after its plans to become a strong regional player came unstuck in the face of tough competition and lower demand. “Air France-KLM-Alitalia, if one day we are united, could become a very great European brand. In such a scenario, we could supply (Alitalia’s) long-haul flights with passengers from Air France and KLM and they could do the same for us,” he said. De Juniac added that he could see Alitalia boosting its intercontinental routes where its own network might be weak. “Alitalia has strong points in Africa, Latin America and North America, where there is a strong Italian diaspora that can complement ours,” he told the paper. “Alitalia strengthens our commercial footprint pretty much everywhere.

Britain and Ireland tied 9-9 with Continental Europe at Seve Trophy in France

Joost Luiten and Gregory Bourdy birdied their last three holes to beat Jamie Donaldson and Marc Warren 2 and 1. Chris Wood and Scott Jamieson combined for six birdies to defeat Thorbjorn Olesen and Francesco Molinari 2 and 1. Jimenez and Manassero edged Casey and Tommy Fleetwood by a hole to give Continental Europe an 8-6 lead. In the afternoon, Donaldson and Warren spurred a comeback for Britain and Ireland by defeating Thomas Bjorn and Mikko Ilonen 2 and 1. Then Gallacher and Lawrie capitalized on a poor start from Colsaerts and Fernandez-Castano to go 3 up after five holes. The Scottish pair won 2 and 1 to tie 8-8. Luiten and Bourdy are participating for the first time in the Seve Trophy and have won all four matches theyve played. The rookies beat Wood and Jamieson by two holes. Wood eagled from a bunker shot on No. 17, forcing the pair to play the last hole on the golf course of Saint-Nom-la-Breteche. But Luiten and Bourdy sealed the win with a birdie and a 9-8 lead for Continental Europe.

Rallying-Rally of France leg 2 classification

Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen 2:18:58.300 2. Daniel Sordo (Spain) Citroen +00:00.400 3. Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen 00:01.500 4. Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 00:05.000 5. Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Ford 01:10.400 6. Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford 02:16.400 7. Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen 02:43.100 8. Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford 02:57.200 9. Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen 03:19.200 10. Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford 05:25.200