Etihad Airways looks forward to a deal with Alitalia; hurdles include debt, possible layoffs

ROME – The CEO of Etihad Airways says the United Arab Emirates’ national airline is looking forward to clinching a proposed deal involving a big stake in struggling Italian carrier Alitalia.

The two airlines said in a joint statement that Etihad Airways on Sunday confirmed that it will send a letter detailing conditions for a proposed equity investment. Negotiations have lasted for months. It quoted Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan as saying “we are delighted to be able to move forward with this process” and look forward to its successful conclusion.

Italian news reports have said a deal would likely see banks renegotiating more than 500 million euros ($700 million) in debt, cancelling some and converting the rest into shares. Italian unions might resist layoffs that likely could figure in any deal.