Delta Air Lines has reiterated that it is considering taking a 10% stake in Alitalia as part of its relaunch, as the latest deadline for a business plan for the Italian airline approaches amidst ongoing uncertainty about the makeup of its rescue consortium. 

Alitalia filed for bankruptcy in May 2017 after falling victim to stiff competition from LCCs and high-speed trains. The company’s rescue has been repeatedly held up—partly by political upheaval and partly by a failure to agree on the exact line-up of the rescue consortium and the way forward for Alitalia among potential rescuers. 

Delta has come under pressure to invest more in Alitalia, as Italy’s government seeks to map out a plan for the airline, which it hopes to relaunch as the cornerstone of a multimodal transport strategy that will also boost Italian tourism.

“Delta continues to work with Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) and Atlantia and confirms it is prepared to invest up to €100 million [$110 million] for a 10% stake in Alitalia,” the US airline said in an emailed statement, adding: “Delta remains committed to maintaining its partnership with Alitalia in the future.”

A rescue consortium led by Italian railway company FS, which also includes infrastructure group Atlantia as well as the Italian state, has been trying to come up with a route map for the airline. However, the deadline for presenting a business plan has been repeatedly pushed back, most recently from Oct. 15 to Nov. 21.

Following speculation last month that Lufthansa, which had previously expressed an interest, could take part, the German airline group said Nov. 7 in its third-quarter results presentation that it was still interested in taking a stake in Alitalia, but only after the Italian carrier had been restructured. 

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the Nov. 21 deadline for binding bids was “unrealistic” and stressed that “commercial cooperation” was a much more important issue with talks ongoing.

With Alitalia currently a member of the SkyTeam alliance, along with Air France-KLM and Delta, a commercial deal with Lufthansa could put an end to a cooperation with its current partners.

Helen Massy-Beresford, helen.massy-beresford@aviationweek.co.uk