The loss-making Italian airline Alitalia is again on the brink of bankruptcy.
In a ballot, two thirds of its workers have voted to reject a management restructuring plan.
The agreement to lay off 980 full-time staff plus hundreds more contract workers and reduce flight crews wages by around eight percent had been worked out between the company and the unions – who had urged a yes vote.
“This was a painful vote but a determined one against a company that until now has done little to fix its issues,” several unions said in a joint statement.
They added that it was hoped shareholders and the government would do everything possible to prevent decisions that could have traumatic consequences.
Workers had repeatedly said they were unwilling to accept any further sacrifices when Alitalia’s labour costs were already among the lowest among the legacy airlines in Europe.
Italian airline Alitalia has reached its final destination – yet again
Unmack1</a> <a href="https://t.co/BNSKV1iUKC">https://t.co/BNSKV1iUKC</a></p>— ReutersBreakingviews (Breakingviews) April 25, 2017
Overhauled or wound up
Alitalia had warned that union backing was essential to obtain fresh funds from shareholders, which also include Italy’s top two banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit.
A shareholders meeting is now due to be held on April 27 and Alitalia is likely to be put into special administration.
The Italian government could then appoint a commissioner to assess whether it can be overhauled or should be wound up.
It is reportedly losing at least 500,000 euros a day and will run out of cash in just weeks.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has been trying to turn around Alitalia since buying a 49 percent stake in 2014 but the airline is facing strong competition from low-cost airlines and high-speed rail services.