Easyjet and Delta have confirmed they are in discussions with Italian state railway firm Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) about a potential consortium bid to run a restructured Alitalia.

The Italian airline started administration proceedings in May 2017 but continued operations. The country’s government supplied the carrier with a €600 million loan to keep it running while it sought bids from outside sources, but the sale was put on hold due to a change of government.

Several airlines have expressed interest in buying Alitalia, including previous bids from Easyjet, Lufthansa and Ryanair, though local media at one time reported up to ten parties had put in offers.

By the end of 2017, it was reported the Italian government had given Alitalia at least €900 million to stay in the air.

Italian media have said in recent weeks that the government was considering a joint deal with Delta and Easyjet, but only if state-run FS still held a majority stake in the airline.

In a statement to investors, Easyjet confirmed talks were ongoing but warned there is “no certainty at this stage that any transaction will proceed”. The airline said it would provide an update in due course, “if and when appropriate”.

Meanwhile, FS commented that its board of directors met Wednesday “and resolved to start negotiations” on plans for the future of Alitalia.

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