Alitalia is in talks with Etihad Airways over a deal that could lead to the Abu Dhabi-based carrier taking a stake in its loss-making Italian peer, according to a report in the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper.
Citing unnamed sources, the paper said that there had been several meetings in recent weeks between managers at both companies, including recently-appointed Alitalia chief executive Gabriele del Torchio.
Del Torchio, who is known as a turnaround specialist, was recruited earlier this year to lead the struggling Italian airline back to profitability. Neither Alitalia nor Etihad could immediately be reached for comment.
Alitalia, 25 per cent of which is owned by Air France-KLM, was rescued from bankruptcy in 2008 when it was bought by a consortium of bank Intesa Sanpaolo, road operator Atlantia and conglomerate IMMSI.
Alitalia and Etihad were mentioned in the context of a possible tie-up earlier this year, but Etihad said at the time there were no talks between the two beyond those on code‑sharing.