AeroItalia (XZ, Rome Fiumicino) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire a 93.86% stake in Romania's AirConnect (KS, Bucharest Baneasa) for an undisclosed sum, cementing the airlines' existing partnership and confirming earlier rumours of a potential investment.

"The acquisition finalised today will allow AeroItalia to strengthen its presence in the Italian regional market and will strengthen our feeder capacity towards our Rome Fiumicino hub," President Marc Bourgade said.

However, the Romanian carrier has since told ch-aviation that "the contract for the sale and purchase of shares is being negotiated. Once signed, AeroItalia will have to pay the price to acquire the property of the parties." A spokesperson added that any potential impact on AirConnect's business model would be revealed only once the share transfer is complete.

The privately-owned Italian airline will likely acquire the stake from Iulian Bogdan Năstase, a former lawyer at Blue Air (Romania). According to Romania's, Năstase had bought his shares in tranches over the last few months from Florin Necula, Tudor Zamfir Constantinescu, Regional Air Suport SRL, Spark Capital Systems SRL, Karpaten Outgoing SRL, and Pop Cosmin. The remaining 6.14% stake is owned by Alin Crețu, who challenged the sale to Năstase in court earlier this year.

AirConnect, which was incorporated in 2021 and launched in 2022, posted a RON21 million Romanian lei (EUR4.2 million) net loss last year.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that AirConnect operates two ATR72-600s, currently flying exclusively on behalf of AeroItalia on its routes out of Ancona. The Romanian airline recently told ch-aviation it was planning to add more ATR72-600s in 2024 to resume in-house scheduled operations.

AeroItalia, for its part, operates six B737-800s. It also wet-leases one B737-700 from Hello Jets (H3, Bucharest Henri Coanda), and one DHC-8-Q400 from SkyAlps (BQ, Bolzano/Bozen) on a long-term basis.