A possible new investor has emerged with an interest in taking a majority stake in ITA Airways (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), the Italian state-owned railway holding company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported. The government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is said to be studying the possibility of transferring ownership in the airline to a consortium of the rail company and Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt International).

Citing government sources, the daily claimed that the government is pondering a sale of 51% of the Alitalia successor to Lufthansa for EUR250 million euros (USD260 million) and 29% to FS, while the remaining 20% would stay in the hands of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The German carrier entered ITA’s “data room” on November 16 without its former bidding partner MSC, the sources confirmed. FS, however, would need regulatory intervention on the procedure to be able to look at the most sensitive data.

It is still possible that MSC may return to the process, the insiders claimed. Another party could be Atlantia, the infrastructure holdco that owns Rome Fiumicino and Rome Ciampino operator Aeroporti di Roma. The new nationalist government is said to look favourably on the presence of an Italian company to work alongside Lufthansa.

For FS, a tie-up with ITA could allow it to exploit synergies between air and rail transport, for example with its high-speed services linking major cities in Italy, the newspaper added. It 2019, it was interested in submitting a bid to rescue Alitalia, and that July it created a consortium with Atlantia and Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) to take over 80% of Alitalia, leaving 20% with the state. By October, Lufthansa reportedly also entered the fray, but ultimately all initiatives failed as both Lufthansa and Ferrovie dello Stato pulled out of the process in January 2020.

Lufthansa has declined to comment on the reported involvement of FS in the ITA Airways privatisation, while Corriere della Sera’s sources said that the government is in dialogue with all potentially interested parties to identify the best solution.