Italy, Lufthansa extend exclusive talks on ITA Airways sale

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Treasury and Germany’s Lufthansa have agreed to extend exclusive talks over the sale of ITA Airways until May 12 from the previous deadline of April 24, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Monday.

State-controlled ITA officially replaced the money-losing Alitalia airline in 2021.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Treasury granted Lufthansa’s request for extra time for the talks. The source did not provide further details.

Talks proceed in a “constructive manner”, the source added.

Lufthansa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ITA’s chairman said last week the main elements of a deal were defined and the parties hoped to announce it soon.

Reuters previously reported that the German carrier was negotiating with Rome over the purchase of a 40% stake in ITA, valued at around 200 million euros ($220.88 million), with the idea of buying the rest at a later stage.

ITA, which says it is still in a start-up phase, posted a loss of around 486 million euros last year due to the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic and rising fuel costs.

($1 = 0.9055 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Paul Simao)