The high price of oil may put plans to save Italys flagship airline Alitalia at risk. The airline, which has been working on a restructuring programme to cut costs, has thrashed out difficult agreements with the trades unions and is due to begin a programme of recapitalisation and privatization worth 1,2 billion in the autumn. Alitalias financial plans were approved by the European Union transport commission in April. However, the airline had to spend $155 million to fuel aircraft in the first three months of 2005, 36 per cent more than it spent in the same period in 2004. Observers fear that Alitalia may have to ask the Italian government, one of the major shareholders in the company, for help, and therefore run into difficulties with the EU once again.
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