ROME (Reuters) - Italy's former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is running to become the leader of the ruling Democratic Party, said if he wins Sunday's vote he will come up with a plan to rescue loss-making airline Alitalia by mid-May.
Speaking during a debate ahead of the primary vote, Renzi, who stepped down as premier in December after losing a referendum over his flagship constitutional reform, said: "If we are elected, by May 15 we should present a proposal to the government because there has been a saga built around Alitalia, a festival of errors. It's absurd for a country like ours with a lot of tourism... to throw away such an opportunity."
Renzi said, however, that no public money should be spent on the airline.
Workers at the airline on Monday rejected a plan that envisaged cuts to jobs and salaries as a condition for a recapitalisation of Alitalia. The government led by Paolo Gentiloni, who succeeded Renzi, has ruled out nationalising the country's historic flagship carrier, which is now preparing for special administration proceedings.
Reporting by Steve Scherer