Alitalia (AZA, Rome Fiumicino) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cramer Ball has denied reports in the Italian press claiming a second round of job cuts, as well as a reduction in capacity, will feature in the carrier's second business plan.

Last week Italian newspapers quoted company and trade union officials as saying Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi International), Alitalia's 49% shareholder, insists the Italian carrier phase out almost twenty A320-200s while cutting about 2,000 jobs in a bid to curb losses, said to stand at EUR500,000 (USD552,000) per day. In addition, Etihad wants Alitalia to implement a ‘buy on board’ model akin to that used by Low-Cost Carriers.

"In these last few days, several newspaper articles have claimed to be in possession of documents pertaining to the next stage of Alitalia's industrial plan," Ball said in a statement. "They have spoken about a reduction in the fleet and about possible firings in every part of the company. The reality is, however, this: the next stage of the plan has not yet been finalized. As such, nothing has yet been submitted, let alone approved, by the board which will only sit in a few weeks time."

Etihad's displeasure with Rome's unwillingness to enforce several contractual clauses became more evident this month when the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s chairman and CEO James Hogan said he was “disappointed” with Matteo Renzi's administration because “a number of the condition precedents haven’t been met.”

As a consequence, Etihad, which owns 49% of Alitalia, has moved to withhold additional capital from the carrier which has had knock-on effects in several areas, not least of which is the proposed purchase by Alitalia, of a 49% stake in Air Malta (Malta International).

Last week, Malta's Minister of Tourism, Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis, was forced to deny reports in both the Maltese and Italian press claiming talks between Air Malta and Alitalia, that have dragged on for almost six months beyond their original deadline, have now unofficially fallen through.

Italy's Il Giornale last week quoted sources in Alitalia as saying a proposed deal had collapsed after the project's main proponent, Etihad, had ‘lost its enthusiasm’ for the investment.

However, Zammit-Lewis last week denied the deal was off the table noting in a statement that talks with the Italians were still on-going. In a new twist to the saga, new reports suggest government has also held high-level talks with Banayoti Holdings Limited, a private business empire based in the UK and Canada and controlled by tycoon, Edward Banayoti.