Unless there is a last-minute breakthrough, the failing Italian airline Alitalia is facing the imminent prospect of liquidation.
It is also reported that Italy’s civil aviation authority is threatening to ground flights within 10 days from Monday if no deal on the company’s future is found.
This after a consortium of investors withdrew a possible rescue bid, citing union opposition.
CGIL union leader Guglielmo Epifani said: “It is unthinkable that a plan to re-launch an airline can go ahead against and without the representatives of the pilots and flight attendants.”
The unions maintain the scale of wage and staff cuts being proposed was unacceptable. Planes are still taking off, but no one knows for how long.
ANPAV union leader Massimo Muccioli said: “We speak for all our colleagues. Everyone will turn up for work. No holiday-makers should worry. There are planes, they are flying. Certainly the administrator has some financial problems, but we will work with him to find solutions that work.”
The failure of the rescue bid will come as a blow to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who said he would use his business connections to persuade investors to keep the carrier in Italian hands.
Even the Pope, who uses Alitalia, said he was praying for a positive outcome. But unless some kind of 11th hour deal is struck, observers say the chances of survival seem slim.