Alitalia, Windjet offices searched

Probe into failed takeover

Alitalia, Windjet offices searched

Catania, November 7 - Italian tax police on Wednesday searched offices of Italian flag-carrying airline Alitalia and bankrupt Sicilian airline Windjet in a probe into this summer's failed takeover talks. Catania prosecutors have opened a file against "person or persons unknown" and no one has been placed under investigation. Last month Italy's civil aviation agency said it had received no requests by anyone wanting to resume Windjet's business despite reports that it was being given a new life, . The National Civil Aviation Authority said it had not received any request for a new licence that would permit Windjet or a Newco to take flight. And if such a request was received, the agency said it would be bound by European regulations to carefully confirm the new company's "financial, technical and operational sustainability". However, Windjet owner Nino Santos told newspaper La Sicilia that he had a provisional licence to resurrect the low-cost carrier under a new name, Aero Sicilian, while retaining the W brand on its planes. Flights are provisionally scheduled to resume December 5. Windjet declared bankruptcy in August, stranding thousands of passengers and leaving many more holding worthless tickets. Meanwhile, a Sicilian politician recently warned that although a new carrier might save Windjet jobs, it should not expect financial support from the government. "The Windjet story must be resolved, but not by asking Sicilians to put their hands in their pockets," warned Simona Vicari, provincial coordinator of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party in Palermo. Angry Windjet workers have been fighting for their jobs since the carrier collapsed under the weight of debt reaching about 140 million euros.

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