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Alitalia could shut down within 10 days

The Italian aviation authority said it would ground Alitalia in 10 days if a new bailout proposal doesn't emerge. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the airline is "on the edge of a precipice".

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Italy's civil aviation authority could order troubled national airline Alitalia grounded within 10 days after a consortium withdrew its rescue plan, a source close to the regulator told AFP on Friday.

The National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) will from Monday determine whether the company had new bailout offers after unions on Thursday rejected a lifeline by an Italian consortium because of proposed mass job cuts.

The source said the body would conduct its probe for six to 10 days and if its finding are negative, "Alitalia will be grounded" with its licence taken away.

Alitalia on Friday cancelled 30 flights as its troubles deepened. A spokeswoman blamed "technical reasons" for the cancelled flights.

The government holds a 49.9 percent share in Alitalia, a national symbol for Italians since it was founded in 1946.

But the airline has lurched for years from crisis to crisis, and was placed under special administration in August.

The government has spent five billion euros in the last 15 years to keep Alitalia flying, the last handout being a 300 million euro emergency loan in April.

It is barred by European regulations from subsidising the airline with further public money.

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