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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Struggling Alitalia lures bids from easyJet and Delta Airlines

UK budget carrier puts in offer for crippled Italian airline and US giant also makes a move

EasyJet and Alitalia aircraft at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The Italian carrier has attracted interest. Reuters
EasyJet and Alitalia aircraft at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The Italian carrier has attracted interest. Reuters

Italy’s Alitalia attracted bids from European discounter easyJet and US giant Delta Airlines, as the government renews attempts to sell the bankrupt flag-carrier.

UK-based easyJet said on Wednesday that it submitted a revised expression of interest in unprofitable Alitalia, while Delta also presented a proposal, according to the Ansa news agency. Italian state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato said it also made an offer.

The bids raise the prospect of Alitalia gaining multiple owners, with easyJet bringing its expertise to bear on short-haul operations, and Atlanta-based Delta helping to run lucrative long-haul flights out of Milan and Rome. Ferrovie would most likely act as an anchor investor.

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State-appointed administrators for the airline confirmed that two binding bids had been received for Alitalia, together with one expression of interest, without saying who they were from. Italian Economic Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Wednesday that “finding an industrial partner is going to be key.”

Alitalia went into liquidation last year after workers rejected a €2 billion (Dh8.35bn) recapitalisation tied to 1,600 job cuts from a workforce of 12,500.

An initial April 30 bid deadline was extended to October 31 this year. The airline has been surviving on a €900 million bridge loan that expires in December, although the facility could be extended while the government continues the search for investors, according to Italian press reports.