Delta and EasyJet have confirmed on Wednesday that they have joined the Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato to explore the possibility of taking over the troubled national carrier Alitalia in the country.
The sale of Alitalia, which was put into operation in 2017 following a series of restructuring and investment over the past decade, has failed to displace the Italian carrier's assets, has been in the pipeline for years and has attracted a handful of stakeholders.
Ferrovie dello Stato said it would start negotiations with Delta and EasyJet to negotiate an Alitalia plan. Delta and EasyJet have confirmed that negotiations with the state-owned railway company continue. EasyJet warned that there was no "certainty" that it would proceed to a deal to buy a stake in Alitalia.
In order to secure a deal, EasyJet and Delta will have to convince the Italian government that they are the best partners to stabilize Alitalia, which has suffered great financial losses and has struggled to compete with its low competitors.
Italian media reported on Wednesday that the country's right-wing populist coalition government would be willing to support a deal with Delta and EasyJet as long as Ferrovie dello Stato retains a majority stake in Alitalia.
The sale and restructuring of Alitalia was delayed earlier by the change in government in Rome. The new populist leadership has made it clear to prospective candidates that each offer should include a local group holding a majority stake in Alitalia.
"The government is ready to participate in the creation of New Alitalia through the Ministry of Economy, provided this is in line with EU rules and that there is a sustainable business plan," said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Earlier, Conte met with Deputy Luigi di Mayo and Economy Minister Giovanni Tria to discuss a bailout plan for Alitalia.
The loss carrier was surrounded by candidates before and previously counted the carrier in the Gulf of Etihad as a minority shareholder before his collapse in 2017. Alitalia.
Lufthansa said he was only interested in acquiring Alitalia if the airline made extensive job cuts while in the administration. The German carrier has also made its offer conditional on obtaining full control of Alitalia without state ownership. Air France-KLM is not expected to renew its interest in the carrier in the last round of bidding, FT reported last year.