Alitalia briefs board on status of Etihad talks

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Alitalia is giving little away today after its board of directors met today to get an update on the status of talks with potential investor Etihad Airways.

The Gulf carrier entered the final phase of talks over a possible investment in the troubled Italian carrier at the start of February. Discussions over the following 30 days were to determine whether a deal could be done. Two and a half months later, talks continue.

While little has been said publicly on the status of the talks, the Italian government had been expecting Etihad to make a final offer after completing due diligence earlier this month. Instead Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi said Etihad delivered updated conditions for further investment. Italian media have reported Etihad is seeking deeper labour costs and a debt restructuring as a condition of investing in the loss-making carrier. Alitalia unions earlier this year provisionally agreed a productivity deal to avert a planned 1,900 job cuts.

Alitalia's board of directors met today and in a brief statement following the meeting, the airline says its chief executive Roberto Colaninno gave an update on the state of relations with Etihad. No further details were released on the status of the talks.

The Italian carrier, which in December completed a much-needed €300 million ($410 million) capital increase, continues to seek a fresh investor. The airline, which reported a loss an operating loss of €162 million for the first nine months of 2013, has not yet released full-year results for 2013. At today's board of directors' meeting Colaninno says the economic performance of the early part of 2014 has improved on the same period last year and is line with its forecast, without providing details.