Italian regulator probes health of country's airlines

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Italian regulator ENAC is to carry out an urgent investigation into the finances of the country's airlines in the face of continued consolidation and losses in the sector.

It said: "At the moment, Italy, like other European countries, is going through a particular[ly difficult] economic time. Public administrations, such as ENAC, are going to test the economic sustainability [of companies] in various sectors."

Although it said the investigation, announced on 31 January, is not directly related to the planned merger of carriers Alitalia, Blue Panorama and WindJet, it will "monitor the situation" due to the scale "of the operation that Alitalia is planning to do".

ENAC aims to complete the probe in around two months, with the report to be presented at its next board meeting.

The number of Italian passenger airlines will shrink from over 20 at its highest point to around half a dozen if the Alitalia deal is approved.