The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi proved recent health scares were behind him, with an impromptu game of hide-and-seek with his German counterpart. Berlusconi left them laughing by hiding behind a pillar as Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Trieste. More seriously, though, Berlusconi used their meeting to promote a German solution for the ailing Italian carrier Alitalia. “As far as Alitalia is concerned, the Chancellor and I are agreed that the best option would be a deal between Lufthansa and Alitalia,” Berlusconi said. “We hope it will work.”
Alitalia is deep in debt and facing bankruptcy. Union opposition to re-structuring plans and their inevitable job losses have meant cancelled flights and passenger misery. Alitalia threatened to cancel 100 flights a day this week, because of the strikes. The unions hit back, saying Alitalia loses less money by keeping its planes on the ground.