A deal between the Italian Government and Lufthansa over the sale of Ita Airways could be reached as early as March, according to local news reports.
Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance aims to sign a ‘preliminary contract’ between 15 and 31 March to allow the German company to take an initial 40 per cent stake in its national carrier, according to a report by il Corriere della Sera.
The news follows a meeting on Tuesday (31 January) between Ita managing director, Fabio Lazzerini, and Italy’s national labour unions, where details of Lufthansa’s recovery plan for the fledgling airline were reportedly discussed and then confirmed to il Corriere by two government sources.
The plan is said to include an increase in wages for Ita staff – with Lufthansa reportedly undeterred by the unions’ demands for better pay – and the eventual return of legacy carrier Alitalia, which closed in August 2021 following years of financial problems.
The Alitalia brand will reportedly make a return once the carrier becomes profitable, and will be limited to intercontinental flights, while the Ita brand will continue on national and European routes.
The Italian government began exclusive talks with the German group last month, after Lufthansa submitted a bid to acquire an initial 40 per cent share in Italy's national carrier – valued at an estimated €250-300 million – with options to buy the remaining 60 per cent at a later date.
Following the MoU signing on 27 January, negotiations are expected to continue until mid-to-late March. The EU Antitrust will then weigh in on the deal and if no other entity objects, takeover plans could be set into motion as early as this summer.
However, as reported by il Corriere, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has already anticipated requests for "corrections" from rival airlines, including the release of slots at Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino airports, which could delay the regulatory approval process.