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Alitalia Chief Quits As Loss Deepens

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The chief executive of Italian airline Alitalia quit after only a year in the job on Monday as the struggling company reported a net loss of EUR€280 million (USD$366 million) in 2012.

Alitalia, 25 percent owned by Air France-KLM, said demand for air travel had suffered last year because of the financial crisis in the euro zone and recession in Italy.

Chief executive Andrea Ragnetti had left the company by mutual agreement, the company said. A former marketing executive with Telecom Italia and Philips, he joined Alitalia in February 2012 and took on the CEO role in March.

Pending the appointment of a new chief executive, Chairman Roberto Colaninno has been given additional powers, Alitalia said.

The net loss had deepened from EUR€69 million in 2011, the deficit swollen by EUR€91 million of extraordinary costs related to depreciation, maintenance and sales of aircraft as the company completed the renewal of its fleet.

In a sign of improving performance, Alitalia said it had broken even at the operating level in the last three months of last year. Its load factor increased to 74.6 percent in 2012 from 72.8 percent the previous year.

Shareholders on Friday approved plans to lend the company up to EUR€150 million.

Alitalia was rescued by a consortium that bought the then-bankrupt airline in 2008. Air France-KLM has held its stake since January 2009 and has said it will probably wait until at least 2014 before using an option to take control of the airline.

(Reuters)

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