[Story updated June 14 to include the new July 15 deadline]

The chairman of Rome’s S.S. Lazio football club, Claudio Lotito, has become the latest possible investor to express interest in Italian flag carrier Alitalia, which has been under special administration since May 2017.

The offer comes just two days before the latest deadline—June 15—in which Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) is set to present a detailed bid and business plan to lead the revamp of Alitalia in cooperation with the Italian government, which wants to make it the cornerstone of a multimodal transport strategy that will boost Italian tourism, with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines also taking part. 

The deadline, which has already been pushed back, has been extended to July 15, Alitalia announced June 14.

Italian ministers and Alitalia executives have previously said that one or more additional investors will join the consortium, with infrastructure group Toto Holding and Atlantia, which operates Rome’s airports and is controlled by the Benetton family, among the names reported by the Italian media in recent weeks.

Atlantia holds the concession to operate the Morandi bridge in Genova, which collapsed in August 2018, killing 43 people. The Italian government has insisted the choice of Alitalia investors will be made independently of other matters.

Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Italian TV June 11 that Atlantia would be a “natural partner” for Alitalia and that he had no prejudices about the choice of investor. However, he acknowledged that he was not responsible for making the decision.

But in a statement published by news agency ANSA June 12, Atlantia said its position had not changed since its CEO previously said was too busy with other matters and would not take part in an Alitalia rescue. 

Alitalia filed for bankruptcy more than two years ago, in May 2017, after being squeezed by aggressive competition from LCCs and high-speed trains. There have been repeated delays and complications in the process of finding a way to rescue the carrier since. 

The €900 million ($1 billion) bridge loan that has kept Alitalia operating since it filed for bankruptcy is due to be repaid by the end of this month.

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