UPDATE 1-Italy to extend maturity of 400 mln euro Alitalia loan - draft

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ROME, June 30 (Reuters) - The Italian government will extend to December the maturity of a 400-million euro ($474 million) bridge loan it granted Alitalia amid delays in launching a new state-owned carrier to replace the bankrupt airline, a draft decree seen by Reuters showed.

Rome will also create a fund worth 100 million euros to reimburse passengers for tickets and vouchers issued by Alitalia during the pandemic and not used before the new state-owned carrier starts operations, according to the draft.

The governing coalition last year set up a plan for a new carrier called Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which was supposed to start operating in early April in place of Alitalia.

However lengthy negotiations with the European Commission have delayed the launch by several months, likely until after the busy summer period, allowing rival carriers including Ryanair and Wizz Air to snap up domestic routes in Italy.

The decree, which is expected to be approved in a cabinet meeting later on Wednesday, also says that administrators running Alitalia will start private negotiations to sell the airline’s assets to ITA. ($1 = 0.8431 euros) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Francesca Landini; writing by Francesca Landini, editing by Kirsten Donovan)