Italy’s government said railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) now has until June 15 to present a plan for the relaunch of bankrupt airline Alitalia, in the latest deadline extension in a long-running rescue process. 

“After having received today from the Alitalia special administrators a communication requesting an extension of the deadline for the presentation of a final and binding offer from FS for Alitalia, Minister Luigi Di Maio has authorized the extension of that deadline until June 15, 2019, hoping however that details of the definitive makeup of the acquiring consortium may arrive as quickly as possible,” the economic development ministry said in a May 3 statement. 

The previous deadline for FS to set out its plans for Alitalia, which filed for bankruptcy in May 2017, was April 30—a deadline that had already been pushed back before. However, on April 29, FS—which is set to lead a relaunch in which the Italian state and US carrier Delta Air Lines are also taking part—said it had discussed the possibility of an extension at a board meeting. 

Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, who is also economic development minister said April 30 that new investors were joining the relaunch plan. 

The Italian government wants to keep at least part of the airline in Italian hands as part of a strategy to use the revamped carrier as the basis for a broader plan to boost the country’s tourism.  

The extension to June means FS will present its Alitalia strategy just two weeks before the June 30 deadline for Alitalia to pay back a €900 million ($1 billion) bridge loan that has allowed it to keep flying since its bankruptcy. The European Commission is also investigating the loan to determine whether it constitutes state aid and has said it is in regular contact with Italian authorities, but cannot comment on when the investigation will be completed.

Helen Massy-Beresford,