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Alitalia Makes Last-Gasp Appeal for Help

Italy's state airline Alitalia has issued a final appeal on its website for investors to salvage the deeply indebted company. Earlier, Italy's aviation authority warned Alitalia flights could be grounded by the end of the week if no credible rescue plan is in place. Sabina Castelfranco has this VOA report from Rome.

Alitalia's bankruptcy administrator, Augusto Fantozzi, said Monday the Italian airline's chances for survival look bleak. He held a meeting with the head of Italy's civil aviation authority. "There are no prospects for a rescue in a reasonable time," he said.

The civil aviation authority chief, Vito Riggio, said a credible plan needs to be in place by Thursday to avoid the revocation or suspension of the flight license.

Riggio said if the plan is not considered credible Alitalia's flight licence will be withdrawn or, as the administrator said, he will hand it over.

Fantozzi said this month's Alitalia payroll, due September 27, would use up much of what little cash the airline has left. Using the Alitalia website, he has urged anyone who is able to guarantee the medium-term continuity of the air transport service to send an expression of interest, in writing, to him, for one or any parts of Alitalia by September 30.

Alitalia is losing about $4.3 million a day, with a debt of $1.7 billion.

Italy's transport minister previously warned Alitalia may not be flying by next week if unions did not agree to an offer by Italian investors to salvage the airline. That offer was withdrawn last week after six of Alitalia's nine unions rejected the plan, which called for about 3,000 job cuts and more working hours.

The country's Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi said in Milan that the Italian investors' offer remained the only way to save Alitalia.