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ROME: Around 1,000 Alitalia workers took to Rome’s streets Wednesday to demand more state help for the beleaguered Italian airline and reject European Union calls for its severe downsizing.

Assembling outside the Ministry for Economic Development, they held placards saying “Don’t touch Alitalia”, and showed a mock coffin with the EU flag and the tail of an Alitalia plane sticking out of it.

The Italian government has hit a stalemate in its negotiations with the European Commission over a three-billion-euro ($3.6-billion) bailout of its former flag carrier.

The commission, which polices state aid in the EU, needs to authorise the plan, which would result in the creation of a new debt-free company that would take over part of Alitalia’s assets.

Brussels has set tough conditions for its go-ahead, including the partial sale of Alitalia slots at Milan’s Linate airport and the adoption of a new logo to mark a clean break with the past. The new Alitalia, provisionally called ITA, would see its fleet halved to fewer than 50 planes and have its workforce reduced to around 4,500, from around 11,000 today.

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