Alitalia appears condemned to bankruptcy after a last ditch attempt to save the national Italian airline failed.
A consortium negotiating with unions on a deal to rescue the company has withdrawn its offer.
The group of investors had given unions until this afternoon to accept their terms. The deadline having passed without a positive response, the consortium opted to pull out.
The nine unions involved were divided over the deal, which would have meant thousands of redundancies and pay cuts.
One employee speaking at a union meeting condemned the investors group from walking away from the table. He said the ball is now back in the authorities’ court.
But the government has insisted there is nothing more it can do.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s administration has tried and failed to find a buyer for its 49 per cent stake in the the debt-ridden company.
It was Berlusconi himself who persuaded the investors group to come up with a rescue package.
It is unclear if behind-the-scenes talks are going on, but for now Alitalia seems doomed.