Italian government sets priorities in Alitalia sale

MILAN - Italy's economic development minister says the top priority in evaluating offers for the bankrupt Alitalia airline is maintaining connections that bring tourists and business to the southern European nation.

Carlo Calenda has told private Italian TV La7 on Sunday that the second priority was ensuring as little public money as possible is spent in the deal, and the third is protecting workers.

Calenda said 8 billion euros ($9.5 billion) of state money had been spent to keep Alitalia afloat and the result is "an airline that keeps getting smaller and more dysfunctional. ... If we had sold it to a big international player, we would have better service and we wouldn't have thrown away all this money."

The government aims to complete the sale of Alitalia by April.

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