Italy’s economic development minister said the choice of a new investor to help rescue bankrupt Alitalia would be independent of any other dossier, in a reference to the Atlantia transport and infrastructure holding company that is said to be interested in taking part. 

Alitalia’s special administrators and the Italian government are working toward a new June 15 deadline for the presentation of a firm bid from railway company Ferrovie dello Stato, which is set to lead the relaunch alongside Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and the Italian state. 

But deputy prime minister and economic development minister Luigi Di Maio said that, just before the extension of a previous end-April deadline for Ferrovie dello Stato to present its detailed bid and business plan, offers from other investors were coming in. 

Italian media have been reporting that Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, is interested in the carrier. Di Maio’s May 21 comments at an economic forum organized by news agency ANSA were a reference to speculation that Atlantia could seek to win back the government’s favor by investing in Alitalia after the August 2018 collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genova, which the company holds the concession to run. The bridge collapse killed 43 people. 

“Alitalia is a market-led operation and we want healthy investors—investors who are approaching the dossier with a healthy attitude. The important thing is that those who take part in Alitalia aren’t having strange ideas about other dossiers,” Di Maio said in a video posted on the ANSA website.

“No one should think that buying into Alitalia could buy the government’s silence on other dossiers,” Di Maio said, adding the circumstances surrounding the Morandi collapse would be investigated anyway. 

Alitalia filed for bankruptcy two years ago, and the process to relaunch the carrier—at the heart of a multimodal transport strategy that is also set to boost tourism in Italy—has been a long and complex process with repeated delays and deadline extensions.

The €900 million ($1 billion) bridge loan that has kept Alitalia flying since its bankruptcy is due to be paid back at the end of June.

Helen Massy-Beresford,