Alitalia's successor, ITA Airways, is looking for a partner ready to invest in the Italian carrier, Chairman Alfredo Altavilla has said, adding that the airline could seal an alliance by June.
Started Informal Talks
Speaking at a parliamentary hearing, Altavilla said that the state-owned carrier has already started informal talks with some potential partners, both in Europe and overseas, but did not name any suitors.
"Looking For An Equal Partnership"
"We don't need code sharing or a commercial joint venture. If you put money on the table, you play; if you don't put money on the table, you can avoid asking for access to the data room," he said. "We are looking for an equity partnership."
Lufthansa, British Airways And Delta Air Lines
Two sources close to ITA Airways told Reuters that the Italian carrier has been in contact with Germany's Lufthansa, British Airways and United States-based Delta, adding that formal talks could start by the end of March.
A Lufthansa spokesman reiterated that the German carrier is open to the possibility of a partnership with ITA.
However, Delta Air Lines Inc on said that it has no plans to invest in ITA Airways.
Last month, Delta launched a reciprocal codeshare agreement with ITA Airways. In an interview, Chief Executive Ed Bastian said that the US carrier is working on the codeshare relationship.
"We have no plans to invest in them," Bastian told Reuters in an interview.
Meanwhile, British Airways declined to comment.
ITA Airways started flying on October 15 with nearly 2,300 employees and a fleet less than half the size of that operated by Alitalia.
"We are flexible, have cut costs and we have a fleet and network that can be integrated into that of a bigger partner," Altavilla said, adding that the Italian carrier is not interested in an alliance that would make ITA merely a junior partner and hold back growth at its Rome and Milan airports.
Final Decision Depends On Italian Government
The final decision on any tie-up would depend on the Italian government, which is in favour of a partnership but has not made clear whether it would be ready to relinquish control of the carrier.
"The option of a partner entering ITA Airways is the path desired from the outset for ITA's survival...there is no official position on (a partnership with) Lufthansa, but we don't hide the hope for such a partnership," a source within Italy's industry ministry told Reuters.
Revenue And Cash
ITA Airways reported revenue of €86 million for the period from October 15 to December 31, well below estimates given in its business plan, Altavilla said.
But the airline started 2022 with a higher than expected €400 million in cash, helped by cost cuts, a smaller workforce and some flight suspensions because of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the chairman added.