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Alitalia rescue seen as Etihad signals its interest: spokesman

ROME -- A rescue for Italian flag carrier Alitalia inched forward on Thursday as the state postal service said it was taking part in a capital increase and Emirati airline Etihad Airways signalled its interest.

“Etihad Airways is in discussions with Alitalia,” spokesman Tom Clarke said in a text message to AFP.

The Abu Dhabi-based company could be preparing an investment of between 300 million and 350 million euros (US$410 million and US$478 million) and could take a stake of up to 49 percent, Italian media reported. That would make it by far the biggest shareholder. Alitalia is in debt to the tune of 1.2 billion euros and has been badly hit by competition from low-cost carriers, particularly Ireland's Ryanair.

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