Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) does not plan to invest in ITA Airways (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) for the time being, its chief executive Ed Bastian told Reuters on January 13, his comments coming a day after the Alitalia successor confirmed it was looking for a partner ready to invest in the Italian carrier.

“We have no plans to invest in them,” Bastian said, although he acknowledged that the two airlines were working on a codeshare agreement, talks on which began in December.

ITA Airways’ chairman, Alfredo Altavilla, told a parliamentary hearing on January 12 that the state-owned carrier had started informal talks with potential partners, in Europe and overseas, though he opted not to name them. An alliance could be sealed by June, he added.

“We don’t need codesharing or a commercial joint venture. If you put money on the table, you play. If you don’t put money on the table, you can forget asking for access to the data room. We are looking for an equity partnership,” he said.

Two unnamed sources “close to ITA” had told Reuters that the Italian national airline had been in contact with Delta as well as with rival suitors Lufthansa and IAG International Airlines Group, parent of Iberia and British Airways, claiming that formal talks are likely to start by April.

As previously reported, ITA Airways joined Skyteam in October, the global alliance dominated by Delta and Air France-KLM. However, by January reports emerged that the Italian carrier appeared to be favouring Lufthansa, founding member of the Star Alliance, while Oneworld alliance player IAG, recently released from its obligations towards Air Europa, had also emerged as a contender.

“We are flexible, have cut costs, and we have a fleet and network that can be integrated into that of a bigger partner,” Altavilla said, although he clarified that ITA did not want to be a junior partner which could restrain growth at Rome Fiumicino and Milan Linate.

The final decision on a partnership will come from the Italian government. It has hinted it is in favour of an equity deal but has not said if it would want to let go of majority control of its carefully rehabilitated national airline. Nevertheless, Altavilla admitted at the hearing that ITA Airways reported EUR86 million euros (USD98 million) in revenue between October 15, the date it took over from Alitalia, and December 31 - substantially underperforming its business plan.