Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has announced it had agreed principal terms and conditions to buy a 49% stake in loss-making Italian carrier, Alitalia, Reuters has reported. The two carriers have been in talks since December, but a deal had been elusive due to Italy’s reluctance to bow to Etihad’s conditions over job cuts of around 2,200 and a restructuring of the airline’s debt. Alitalia’s board voted on June 13 to accept an offer by Etihad to invest in the airline, but did not give details. A stake in Alitalia, which offers access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market and flies 25 million passengers a year, would further Etihad’s efforts to expand its reach in Europe after already taking strategic stakes in Air Berlin and Aer Lingus.
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