Negotiations discussing Lufthansa’s acquisition of a 40% stake in ITA Airways (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) have been extended to May 12, but the talks are on the right track and an announcement is now expected in the first week of May, sources have told the newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance and the German airline agreed to extend their exclusive talks, begun in late January, over the sale of Alitalia’s nationalised, loss-making successor from the previous deadline of April 24. Lufthansa has not given any details or a new date for when a contract could be signed, with a spokesman merely saying that “the talks are on track but not yet concluded.”

A month ago, the newspaper’s government sources claimed that an agreement could close as early as April 19. Now they define the last elements to be signed off on - which caused the deadline extension - as “non-essential”.

Lufthansa is also looking to secure options for a later complete takeover of ITA Airways. Two government sources familiar with the negotiations told Corriere that there will be a phase of Lufthansa’s entry into ITA’s - up to 40% for EUR200-250 million euros (USD221-276 million) - which will involve the “sharing” of the capital necessary for development. Over EUR2 billion (USD2.21 billion) is said to be needed to complete the renewal of the fleet.

Then, once the Italian carrier reaches operating break-even, Lufthansa will be able to trigger a clause to take full control of ITA in the second half of 2025 or the first half of 2026.

The Italian government will be looking to enhance its share. With an estimated EUR4 billion (USD4.42 billion) in revenues in 2027 and profitability in line with the rest of the Lufthansa Group carriers, ITA could have a value of EUR900 million to EUR1.1 billion (USD995 million-1.22 billion), so the ministry could ultimately sell its 60% for about EUR600 million (USD663 million), the sources explained.