Air France-KLM said on Thursday that it had made a non-binding bid for Alitalia. Financial details were not disclosed.
Offers from rival airlines such as Germany’s Lufthansa and Italy’s Air One are expected to follow. Alitalia said earlier that it wanted bids submitted by December 6.
The Italian flag carrier’s board is expected to meet at midday today to review its options, reports news agency Reuters.
Air France-KLM, which is seen as the ideal partner for Alitalia by the Italian press, said in a statement: ‘This major step in European consolidation would not only be beneficial for passengers but would also meet the requirements for the group’s economic and financial targets by the end of the 2009/2010 fiscal year.’
According to the Financieele Dagblad (FD), the troubled Italian flag carrier will select which company it wishes to enter exclusive talks with at the end of the year.
If the Air France-KLM bid is successful, Rome would become the third ‘hub’ within the airline group next to Amsterdam and Paris, says the FD.
Merger talks between Dutch carrier KLM and Alitalia stranded some years ago.
The Italian state is now prepared to sell its 49.9% stake in the national airline. Alitalia has been loss-making for some years.
It reported a loss of €58m before tax in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, down from minus 67m in the same year-earlier period.
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