Rome, February 6 - Prosecutors on Wednesday opened an commercial fraud investigation into Italian airliner Alitalia over a plane that skidded off a Rome runway while making a landing and injuring three passengers over the weekend. The flight was operated by Romanian partner carrier Carpatair, which the same prosecutors have been investigating since the incident Saturday. The Italian airliner is accused of deceiving customers by selling tickets marked Alitalia which were in fact for a foreign company. After the near disaster Saturday, a passenger told ANSA that the plane touched down twice before the landing gear bent out of shape and the aircraft ended up off the runway. One of the three people hospitalized was said to have non-life-threatening spinal injuries and the other two pelvic injuries. In a statement on Saturday Alitalia said that "strong winds" drove the plane off the runway. Several incidents have raised questions about the Alitalia- Carpatair partnership. Last month a Carpatair flight from Ancona to Rome made an emergency landing soon after take-off and in December a flight from Pisa's airport was stopped on the runway before takeoff when ground crew noticed it was dangerously leaking fuel as it taxied in preparation for flight.
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di Giovanni Pastore