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EU To Allow Sale Of Airline Slots, Potentially Helping Alitalia


Pulling Alitalia out of the gutter seems to be an all-European endeavor

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May 04, 2008

MILAN - The European Union has issued a directive allowing European airlines to buy and sell from each other the takeoff and landing slots that they do not use, allowing Italy's troubled airline Alitalia SpA to potentially refurbish its distressed accounts, according to a report in Sunday's Corriere della Sera.

According to the directive, the slots can be sold by the airlines to which they were assigned, swapped within the airline's code-sharing agreement, or used to buy services, the newspaper said.

With this directive, Alitalia may not need the 300 million euros bridging loan granted it by the Italian government, which encountered opposition from the European Union as it considers it a form of state aid, the daily added.

The Italian government agreed on the loan to keep the airline afloat while the incoming government seeks a buyer for the airline, after Air France-KLM (nyse: AKH - news - people ) withdrew its offer. The EU has said that it will refuse all new state aid for Alitalia until 2011, in no matter what form.

A few months ago Alitalia sold three pairs of slots at London's Heathrow airport for 92 million euros, where this sort of exchange is allowed, according to Corriere della Sera.

forbes.com

Pulling Alitalia out of the gutter seems to be an all-European endeavor
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