Six other airlines join Lufthansa in bidding to take over bankrupt Alitalia

Six other airlines join Lufthansa in bidding to take over bankrupt Alitalia

MILAN — Lufthansa and Easy Jet are among seven airlines that made binding offers Monday to take over all or part of Alitalia, the Italian carrier that declared bankruptcy in May.

Alitalia confirmed it received seven envelopes containing bids by the evening deadline, but provided no details.

German carrier Lufthansa earlier confirmed it submitted an offer to buy at least part of Alitalia’s aviation business, including global, European and domestic routes, while apparently shunning the ground and handling business.

Easy Jet said it bid for “certain assets” of a restructured Alitalia, but did not give specifics.

The Italian government wants to close the sale by the end of April, followed by a period of evaluation by European anti-trust authorities that would likely delay a completion of any deal until the end of summer.

The government last week extended a 300 million-euro bridge loan to keep the airline operating until any sale can be complete, on top of 600 million euros extended since Alitalia declared bankruptcy.

The tender offer made clear that bankruptcy administrators want to avoid a fire-sale of Alitalia assets, giving preference to any offer that takes on the entire airline, which has 8,000 aviation employees, including pilots and flight attendants, and an additional 3,600 on the ground. But the bidding process allows for the possibility to isolate either the aviation or handling businesses.

Lufthansa did not provide detailed information, including how much the bid is worth and how much staff it would retain. Lufthansa said in a statement that it wanted to establish a “NewAlitalia,” that it said “could develop long-term economic prospects.”

If successful, Lufthansa would add Alitalia assets to those it is acquiring from Air Berlin, both of which were controlled by Etihad airlines until the Gulf carrier cut financing.

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported earlier Monday that Lufthansa was preparing a 500 million-euro ($590 million) bid for large parts of Alitalia, including planes, pilots, air crew and air slots. The report said the plan calls for cutting 6,000 jobs and reducing the airline’s short- and medium-haul routes, which have suffered under the pressure from low-cost airlines.

Alitalia declined to comment.