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Alitalia Losses Triple For 2001

Italian carrier says that profits were hit by restructuring costs and a slump in demand...

Alitalia's losses more than tripled in 2001 as Europe's fifth largest air carrier was hurt by a plunge in air travel after September 11th and measures to cut routes, planes and staff.

The airline said it lost 907 million euros ($791 million) compared with a loss of 257 million euros in 2000. About sixty percent of the loss came from the restructuring measures to the firm, Alitalia said.

The Rome based carrier also said its board approved plans to raise as much as 1.43 billion euros by selling equal amounts of new shares and bonds convertible into its stock. The shares will be sold at 37 cents each, a 61 percent discount to Wednesday's closing price of 94 cents. The stock was suspended yesterday pending the statement.

The record loss was about a third more than Alitalia forecast in November. Passenger traffic fell by a third as people avoided flying after the hijackings in the US, prompting airlines to slash routes and ground planes. Carriers had been suffering even before September 11th as the weakening world economy hurt business travel.