Delta, Air France Enter Exclusive Talks With Italy Over Former Alitalia Airline

Delta Air Lines Inc. and Air France-KLM won their joint bid for ITA Airways, entering exclusive talks with the Italian government over plans to privatize the carrier formerly known as Alitalia, the Wall Street Journal reported. Italy’s Finance Ministry said on Wednesday that a bid from the consortium, which also includes investment firm Certares Management LLC, emerged as the most suitable as the government seeks to hand over control of the reincarnated flag carrier. The government said a final deal isn’t certain. “At the end of exclusive negotiations, binding agreements will be signed only if the outcome is fully satisfactory for public shareholders,” the ministry said. The consortium beat a rival offer from MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG. ITA Airways launched operations in October last year with less than half of Alitalia’s fleet as it focused on profitable routes. Alitalia, which in its heyday flew Hollywood movie stars and more recently was the official airline of the pope, had been losing money since 2008. By 2017, the airline had lost access to credit markets, and the Italian government stepped in with loans worth hundreds of millions of euros, placing Alitalia into special bankruptcy proceedings. For months, the government has been seeking a partner or buyer for ITA Airways in an effort to reduce state control. Read more. (Subscription required.)