Delta, Air France-KLM Express Interest in Alitalia’s Successor

According to Reuters, Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM are reportedly working with a third-party investor to secure a majority stake in Alitalia’s successor ITA Airways. Reuters reported that according to an unnamed Italian government official the parties had presented an expression of interest to the Italian government in the form of a letter. The Italian government has been seeking an equity partner for ITA Airways since the airline launched in October 2021 after the demise of Alitalia.

A partnership between the German Lufthansa Group and Swiss-based shipping organization MSC had confirmed in January that they were undertaking due diligence of the Italian airline. Reuters has also cited an article from the Italian news outlet La Repubblica that a further expression of interest was received from ‘another international fund which is already invested in low-cost carriers’. If the numbers add up for those expressing interest the news of further potential interested parties could set the scene for a bidding war.

ITA Airways was admitted to the SkyTeam alliance almost immediately after its inception as a replacement for Alitalia. Delta, Air France and KLM are all members of SkyTeam which makes the expression of interest in ITA Airways less of a surprise. None of the airlines has made any official or direct comment on this week’s report of the expression of interest in the Italian airline. A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines has stated: “Delta has a longstanding history with the former Alitalia and has created a partnership with ITA Airways which Delta is committed to strengthening.”

Last week the chief executive officer of Lufthansa Carsten Spohr outlined to investors that the German company would not be the majority stakeholder in ITA Airways but a ‘junior partner’ to the Swiss cruise company. Given the past financial woes of the Italian airline’s predecessor Mr. Spohr appears to have sought to allay the fears of shareholders. According to Reuters he stated, “We know what we are doing in Italy, no worry. I hear my shareholders – don’t worry we know there is a legacy.”

In his address Mr. Spohr advised that it was the Italian government that paired the German airline with the Italian owners of Swiss-based MSC. “The government linked us up with MSC, and they asked us for a blind date, and we fell in love,” he said. Reuters reported that the consortium could soon be given access to ITA Airways’ financial records. According to La Repubblica access to the financial documents will be made available once the Italian government appoints a financial advisor and a legal advisor. The two candidates for these advisory roles are expected to be finalized as early as this week.

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