Alitalia Sets Sell-By Date

Following its intention to sell a controlling portion of Alitalia, the Italian government said it wants to sell the Italian carrier by the end of the year and complete the sale within six months, the economy minister, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa told the AP on Wednesday. "Alitalia has not been able to manage the transition from monopoly to a liberalized system," Padoa-Schioppa told reporters. "It's desirable to have a strong flag carrier, but that does not mean it has to be the property of the state." Further, the Italian government said it would not simply award the airline to the highest bidder. Conditions will apply and may include guarantees on service and staffing levels. Alitalia last month said it expected to post a loss of more than $293 million in this year. The carrier has not been profitable since 2002.