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Alitalia calls board meeting, may discuss job cuts

Scale models of Alitalia airplanes are displayed at a shop selling models of vehicles in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Scale models of Alitalia airplanes are displayed at a shop selling models of vehicles in Rome October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian airline Alitalia has called a board meeting for Wednesday to discuss a revised industrial plan for the loss-making carrier that could include heavy job losses, sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

One source said a few thousand jobs could be cut as a result of the revised plan, although there was no definite number given that any proposal would need to secure a number of approvals, including that of trade unions.

Labor representatives said last week they were not prepared to accept any job losses at the airline.

The chief executive of UniCredit , one of Alitalia's key lenders, confirmed on Monday that Alitalia's management was reviewing the company's industrial plan last approved in July, but did not give any details.

Alitalia confirmed Wednesday's meeting, but declined to comment on its agenda, the industrial plan or whether any cuts at the carrier would be discussed.

Italian media said on Monday that Alitalia's Chief Executive Gabriele del Torchio was planning to cut up to 4,000 jobs, including all fixed-term contracts, in the revised plan.

Other proposals included cutting the salaries of pilots and flight attendants, newspapers said, adding that all the measures would generate savings of up to 400 million euros.

One source said there were agreements with unions already in place that would allow for job cuts of up to 2,000.

However, union officials denied that, saying any agreements for job cuts or state-backed temporary layoff schemes currently in place were already being used.

At the meeting on Wednesday the board will also be updated on an ongoing 300 million euro capital increase, meant to keep the airline flying, a source added.

Shareholders have until midnight on Thursday to decide whether to participate in Alitalia's cash call, with all eyes on top shareholder Air France-KLM , which has yet to decide whether to participate.

When contacted by Reuters on Monday, the Franco-Dutch airline declined to comment on an unsourced report in Le Figaro newspaper which said it would not back the capital increase.

The possibility of Air France-KLM participating in the cash call became increasingly remote after the company said at the end of October it had written down the value of its existing 25 percent stake in Alitalia to zero.

($1 = 0.7491 euros)

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Lisa Jucca in Milan and Alexandria Sage in Paris)

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