ROME - German airline Lufthansa joined in the running among foreign firms for a stake in Alitalia, the man in charge of a rescue plan for the near-bankrupt Italian carrier said in comments published Friday.
It has joined Air France-KLM in seeking a minority share in Alitalia when it is relaunched under a plan unveiled this week, Roberto Colaninno, head of scooter maker Piaggio, was quoted as saying by the daily La Repubblica.
“We are in touch with both” Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, said Colaninno, who on Tuesday was named at the head of a new company formed to relaunch Alitalia. “One of them will be indispensable to us,” he added.
“Many foreign companies have shown an interest. Air France has said it is available, but Lufthansa cannot be ruled out,” he said in separate comments published in the economic daily Il Sole-24 Ore.
“Now we will have to see which is the final choice.”
Colaninno stressed that a foreign partner “will in any case only have a net minority” share in the new-look Italian carrier when it is launched. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that under the rescue plan the company will remain Italian, as he had promised at polls in April. He had fought against Air France-KLM’s earlier bids to win control of it.
“The management of Alitalia will remain in the hands of Italians,” Berlusconi told reporters on Thursday after the government approved the rescue plan.
“Prospective foreign partners will take a stake only as minority shareholders.” Under the plan, the new company will take on the airline’s still profitable operations while another will take over the rest and its debt.
Alitalia, in which the state has a 49.9 percent stake, has been surviving on a loan of 300 million euros made in late April from public funds after the collapse of takeover talks with Air France-KLM. - AFP