• Italian government approves new loan to keep Alitalia flying

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    MILAN (AP) - The Italian government has approved new funding for struggling airline Alitalia to keep it operational until new investors can be found.

    The government late Monday approved a bridge loan of 400 million euros ($442 million), an injection made necessary after the state railway failed to pull together a consortium of new investors.

    The government also extended until May 31 a deadline for a new solution to save the airline, which has been struggling to survive against low cost competition on short-range routes and an inadequate long-range network.

    Italy received approval from the European Union for the new loan, which follows previous government credit of 900 million euros. Both must be repaid or be considered unfair state subsidies.

    Alitalia unions have called a 24-hour strike for Dec. 13 to protest the uncertainty.

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