Easyjet Confirms Talks With Italy’s State Railway, Delta Air Lines to Bailout Alitalia

British budget airline easyJet plc (EZJ.L) confirmed on Wednesday that it is in discussions with the Italian state railway and US-based Delta Air Lines (DAL) about forming a consortium to rescue Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia.

This follows submission of easyJet’s interest in a restructured Alitalia in October, according to a statement.

The consortium, which includes Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, will “explore options for the future operations of Alitalia,” the statement noted. “There is no certainty at this stage that any transaction will proceed and easyJet will provide a further update in due course, if and when appropriate.”

While talks continue to secure the future of Alitalia, the mood on the ground at Uiltrasporti, a transport workers’ trade union, is somewhat different.

“In the meetings of October 12 and December 12, we have been repeatedly assured that there would be no redundancies,” according to a statement from the union on Tuesday. “We, therefore, ask [Luigi] Di Maio [Italy’s deputy premier and economy minister] to deny such news, and in view of the next meeting on 14 February, we expect it to be finally constructive.”

Trade unions reportedly voted against Alitalia’s restructuring before it fell into administration in 2017 for the second time in a decade in which the airline is said to have received 7 billion euros ($7.91 billion) in State support. At the time, shareholder Etihad and other Italian investors would have invested 2 billion euros in a rescue program.

Since 2017, the Italian government has been looking for a suitor while rival budget carriers such as Ireland’s Ryanair (RYAAY) and Easyjet have gained ground in a highly competitive industry.

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