Indigo Partners, an American private equity fund that has invested in a number of “ultra-low cost” airlines in Europe and the Americas, sent to Rome last month an expression of interest (EOI) in ITA Airways (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), government sources have told the newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This is likely to be the proposal reported on last week in La Repubblica, which described an unnamed international fund that had previously invested in some of “the world’s most important low-cost carriers.”

Corriere’s sources said that Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, ITA’s current owner, had described this EOI as “interesting” - like that of MSC and Lufthansa - but a third proposal sent by another US-based fund, Certares, which suggested a possible commercial partnership with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Delta Air Lines, had not yet met all the requirements of the carrier’s privatisation decree. It remains to be seen whether Certares will send a new, more “solid” expression of interest.

The financial details of Indigo Partners’ expression of interest are not known, but the sources claimed it was “extremely serious and detailed” as it had projected a plan of action for ITA Airways if it wins the process.

An Indigo-led ITA, the insiders elaborated, would focus above all on short-haul and medium-haul routes, which for Italy would mean national, European, and at most North African and Middle Eastern destinations. But the proposal did not exclude using Wizz Air, a European ULCC in which the fund holds a 7.16% stake, to feed its intercontinental flights, which would in turn connect with airports in the USA, Canada, and Latin America where other carriers it has a shareholding in have a major presence: the Canadian budget startup Lynx Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines in the United States, Volaris in Mexico, and Chile’s JetSMART and JetSMART Argentina.

Industry experts told Corriere della Sera they believed it would be complicated to set up by a system integrating a traditional legacy airline with low-cost carriers, adding that it cannot be ruled out that Indigo Partners is merely attempting to access ITA’s confidential data to the benefit of Wizz Air, which has invested heavily in Italy.

The fund declined to comment on the issue.