Italy’s Alitalia to cut 1,500 jobs

/ Source: The Associated Press

Alitalia SpA said Thursday it expects to lose around 410 million euros ($480 million) this year and will lay off almost 1,500, while buying new airplanes and launching new flights.

The Italian carrier's board approved a slew of measures to implement the company’s strategic plan for 2004 to 2006. Alitalia, which lost euro53 million in 2002 and almost euro1 billion the year before, will present its plan to labor unions on Friday.

Measures approved by the board Thursday include a plan to boost its network capacity by an average 9 percent per year. Alitalia also aims to consolidate its leadership role at the main Italian airports in Rome and Milan.

Alitalia’s board approved a three-year 1.2 billion euro ($1.4 billion) investment plan focusing mainly on completing its fleet renewal program.

The board also approved measures to drastically cut its sales and distribution costs, possibly by developing direct sales channels, to renegotiate contracts with suppliers, boost productivity, and seek ways to ease 1,500 people from the workforce. The jobs to be cut are not in “front-line” ground or flight divisions, the company said.

In the United States, Alitalia flies to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Newark, N.J.