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Alitalia's plight worsens

 Alitalia's plight worsens
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Near-bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia has posted a wider quarterly loss and warned time is running out due to higher oil prices and uncertainty over its fate. The airline, which the Italian government has unsuccessfully tried to sell for more than a year, has seen its losses mount to around two million euros a day in the first quarter as ticket sales fell.

Turnover was 954 million euros, down 4.3%. Its pre-tax loss widened to 215 million euros, 40% more than the same quarter last year. It had just 96 million euros of funds at the end of March, since when it has received a 300 million euro government loan.

New Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised that after the collapse of takeover talks with Air France KLM, a consortium of Italian investors could be put together, but so far nothing concrete has emerged.

Bruno Ermolli, a businessman close to Berlusconi, has asked for access to the airline’s accounts, but Alitalia said it wanted a clear expression of interest before agreeing to that.