Alitalia bosses and union and government officials forged a deal on Wednesday to save the troubled Italian flag carrier, but the company's restructuring plan immediately came under fire from rival airlines that complained of illegal state aid. \nGovernment officials and both Alitalia sides emerged with an agreement in the early hours after thrashing out the details of redundancy payments for 3,700 workers who will lose their jobs in a restructuring plan. \nAlitalia's chairman and chief executive, Giancarlo Cimoli, said the deal guaranteed the com-pany's future. \nThe agreement opens the way for the release of a 400-million-euro (US$490 million) state-guaranteed bridging loan for Alitalia, ensuring the company has sufficient cash until the launch of a capital increase expected early next year. \n"We have laid the cornerstone; now we have to construct the building," said Cimoli, adding that the cost to the state of the five-year package would be around 300 million euros. \n"I think that we obtained what we wanted, the continuation of the company," he said. \nAccording to union leader Luigi Angeletti, the deal "saves the company from failure. It's a good deal; the sense of responsibility prevailed." \nThe company later announced it was postponing the release of its half-yearly figures, which had been due late Wednesday, to October 13. \nIt said in a statement that it wanted to integrate the restructuring funds into its figures following the agreement. \nBut the agreement has angered the airline's low-cost competitors across Europe. They complained in a letter to the European Commission that the restructuring plan constitutes illegal state aid. \nBut the final hurdle to agreement, settling the issue of compensation for those who will lose their jobs under the controversial plan, was finally overcome only after the all-night talks. \nShares in the carrier were sharply up in early trading on Wednesday, the company showing a gain of 4.77 percent to 0.2965 euro. \nThe government holds a 62.39 percent stake in the company, which is 1.6 billion euros in debt. \nMeanwhile, a group of low-cost European airlines have written to the European Commission arguing that Alitalia's restructuring amounts to illegal state aid, the Financial Times reported. \nRyanair, Air Berlin and Wizz Air complained that any shift of liabilities between the company's ground service unit and its flying operations would be tantamount to state aid, the paper said. \nIn the letter to Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and Competition Commissioner Mario Monti, they warned that "any form of state aid to Alitalia will be subject to an official challenge."
RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE: People must wear a mask when outdoors, while employers should allow working from home or flexible hours, Chen Shih-chung said The Cabinet yesterday extended a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert until June 28 as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported 211 locally transmitted cases and 26 deaths. The CECC on May 15 issued the level 3 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City, saying it would last until May 28. Four days later, it expanded the alert to the entire nation before announcing on May 28 that the alert period had been extended to Monday next week. The latest extension was announced following a disease prevention meeting at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung
PRIORITY GROUPS: A line of people were waiting at the Good Liver Clinic, apparently to get shots, while the CECC announced more priority groups for jabs The Taipei-based Good Liver Clinic is to be fined NT$2 million (US$72,028) after giving free COVID-19 vaccine shots to people not in groups eligible to receive them, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday. The Zhongshan District (中山)-based clinic was removed from the city’s list of vaccination venues and health officials would be investigated for giving 1,113 doses to the clinic, Huang told an afternoon news conference at Taipei City Hall. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday in an exclusive story citing an anonymous tip reported that a Taipei clinic was doling out unused vaccines. People in
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged
NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said there are good signs, but ‘we cannot afford to let our guard down now’ The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 219 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and 22 deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 219 local infections — 117 male and 102 female — were aged from under five to over 100 years old, and they began having symptoms between May 22 and Monday. New Taipei City reported 123 cases, followed by Taipei with 54, Miaoli County with 16, Taoyuan with 13, Keelung with eight, Changhua County with two, and one each in Hsinchu City, Taichung and Tainan. The 22 deaths were 15 men and