Delta made it clear yesterday it wanted a slice of Alitalia and was willing to pay $110m for 10% of the company. It was also keen to assist in managing the airline back to profitability.
Just a few days before Lufthansa said it was prepared to invest – but only after the airline had been restructured.
Delta is keen to hold on to one of its Skyteam partners, Lufthansa would love to pull Alitalia into StarAlliance and give it a long cherished link into the wider Italian market.
And then saying nothing there is IAG. Iberia was a basket case worse than Alitalia but it’s been transformed – it’s something IAG are especially good at. IAG keeps things very close to their chest and pounces out of nowhere and I just can’t help feeling that the Delta angle is one they’ll not ignore, and having lost out to RyanAir and Lufthansa in Austria, this isn’t just a bit tempting.
The only thing that makes it slightly less likely is Qatar’s asset in AirItaly, and Qatar is a major shareholder in IAG and in Heathrow Airport, IAG’s main base.
The deadline is fast approaching for expressions of interest – 21st November – and the Italians are trying to say this is the last one. Unless there’s no deal, when presumably it’ll be extended again, or the government finally gives in and let’s the airline sink.