Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a press conference in Sardinia that he spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin about possible negotiations between Alitalia and Aeroflot.
Russian carrier Aeroflot emerged Friday as a potential partner for cash-strapped Italian airline Alitalia, which could also be in line for a government loan of 100-150 million euros (160-238 million dollars).
Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi said that in a meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, he had raised the possibility that Aeroflot might have a role to play in Alitalia's rescue.
"We talked about Alitalia and the possibility of negotiations with Aeroflot," he told a press conference.
Berlusconi provided no further details.
But Putin said after the meeting: "I have spoken with the head of the Aeroflot board and he is ready to resume contacts with Alitalia."
Putin said he and Berlusconi had "discussed this problem and it is clear that Prime Minister Berlusconi is preoccupied by the situation and that he is thinking of the national interest."
Aeroflot in November withdrew its interest in acquiring the 49.9 percent stake in Alitalia that the Italian government is trying to sell.
Newspapers Il Sole 24 Ore and Corriere della Sera meanwhile reported that a government loan of 100 to 150 million euros to Alitalia, at market rates, could be approved as early as next week.
Berlusconi and the outgoing government have said they would try to agree a common approach in order to save Alitalia from bankruptcy.
Berlusconi has also mooted a resumption in takeover negotiations with Air France-KLM, which have broken down, but only if a deal could be reached that would accord "equal status among the three airlines."
Date created : 2008-04-18