Etihad Airways and Alitalia are in the final stages of talks that could lead to the Abu-Dhabi-based carrier buying a 40 per cent stake in its Italian rival for as much as €300 million (£246m).
In a joint statement, the airlines said: “Any issues that may prevent the establishment of an appropriate business plan will have to be resolved to ensure the plan can be implemented to move Alitalia to sustainable profitability.”
Loss-making Alitalia raised €300m from investors in December, but former top shareholder Air France-KLM, which owns about 7 per cent of the Rome-based firm, did not participate in the cash call.
During a visit to Abu Dhabi, Italian prime minister Enrico Letta said he was “very happy” with progress in the discussions, which are expected to see a deal agreed within the next 30 days.
A number of airlines have joined forces in recent years. IAG, itself formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, bought BMI from Germany’s Lufthansa, while Etihad has taken a 3 per cent stake in Aer Lingus and is seen as a likely buyer of the Irish government’s 25 per cent holding.