Meridiana Fly cuts 10 aircraft and 600 staff

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Loss-making Italian carrier Meridiana Fly is to sell 10 aircraft and furlough an additional 600 employees as it battles to stave-off a full-blown financial crisis.

Announced on 12 December and ratified by union representatives on 27 December, the move will take the number of staff placed under cassa integrazione - an Italian scheme where workers are paid by the state to stay at home - to 1,450. This will come into effect from 7 January, says the airline, and applies until June 2015.

The aircraft placed up for sale are a mixture of short- and long-haul types. They include seven Airbus A320 and A319s, two A330s and one Boeing 767, from the fleet of Air Italy, a carrier it acquired in July 2011 for €90 million ($127.3 million). According to Flightglobal data Meridiana Fly operates three A319s, 11 A320s and a pair of A330s, alongside 10 Boeing MD-80s. Air Italy's fleet comprises seven 737s and four 767s.

Meridiana Fly says the drastic cuts are necessary to stabilise its financial position. In the nine months to 30 September the carrier made an EBIT loss of €47.4 million on turnover of €529 million, a position that appears to have worsened in the following months. In a statement announcing the cuts, the airline says "...the results of consolidated operations as at 31 October 2012, appear indicative of an erosion of balance sheet capital".

The carrier has not detailed the routes it will cease operating as a result of the cutbacks.