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Milan mayor says 3-yr Malpensa moratorium to cost Air France, govt UPDATE


Milan (Thomson Financial) - Milan mayor Letizia Moratti said a three-year moratorium on Alitalia SpA activities at the city's Malpensa airport would cost Air France-KLM and the government 600 mln eur.

Moratti was speaking on the sidelines of a conference organised by northern Italian politicians and industrialists to discuss Alitalia's plans to scale down operations at its Malpensa hub to focus on Rome's Fiumicino airport.

"A moratorium for three years would cost the government and Air France 200 mln eur per year and at the same time give the possibility for Malpensa to reconfigure as a hub," Moratti said.

The 600 mln eur over three years to save Malpensa compares with the 10 bln eur the airport creates in gross domestic product, she said.

The government in its talks to sell its 49.9 pct in Alitalia to Air France.

Moratti said the government can "very easily" include the moratorium as a condition for the transaction and discount the additional cost from the sale price.

There is "absolute urgency" on this issue because Alitalia has already announced plans to release slots at Malpensa as part of its downsizing, while slot coordinator Assoclearance has not yet distributed them to other airlines.

Giuseppe Bonomi, chairman of airport company SEA, which operates Malpensa, said the airport could suffer from Alitalia's downsizing and also called for quick action.

Bonomi said the 200 mln eur is an estimate made by Air France-KLM.

Diana Bracco, the president of the Assolombarda employers group in north Italy, said there would be a need for 150 mln to cover social costs of possible job changes as well as the 200 mln eur costs for Alitalia.

"This cost for a three-year moratorium is ridiculous when the country is spending billions on infrastructure," she said. "Malpensa is a strategic asset."

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