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Alitalia relaunch to include Italian state ownership

MILAN (AP) — The Italian populist government's relaunch of the struggling Alitalia airline includes plans to take a 15-percent share and the inclusion of the state railway company as a strategic partner, says Economic Development Minister Luigi Di Maio.

The long-awaited details were revealed ahead of meeting with Alitalia union leaders and as the government awaits an Oct. 31 deadline for binding offers from other companies, a process that had been launched by the previous government.

It remained unclear how the government's new shareholder structure would affect potential bidders' view of Alitalia, which has long suffered from competition with low-cost carriers without being able to successfully relaunch on more lucrative long-haul routes. But officials in Premier Giuseppe Conte's office said the government wanted to re-establish Alitalia as Italy's flagship carrier, giving it preferential rights, the news agency ANSA reported.

Di Maio, whose 5-Star Movement made Alitalia's future a campaign theme, insisted in an interview published Friday by the daily il Sole 24 Ore that plans for the government to take a stake would not raise objections from European Union regulators.

"We are considering a threshold of government participation that is not so far off from other European experiences," Di Maio told the paper, citing the French government's holding in Air France.

Source: usatoday