Air France-KLM is interested in keeping Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) afloat as a member of Skyteam alliance and a transatlantic joint-venture with Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Delta Air Lines, but wants to avoid direct capital investment in the Italian flag carrier, the ANSA newswire has reported.

"We are studying various possibilities to keep Alitalia in the Skyteam family without Air France-KLM being Alitalia's buyer," the group's CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac said on February 16.

"We cannot be totally disinterested in the future of Alitalia which is a partner of Air France-KLM, a partner of Delta and Air France-KLM on North Atlantic JV. So we have to look what is happening with Alitalia. It doesn’t imply that we will take an equity in Alitalia," Air France-KLM CFO Frédéric Gagey added.

Although it acquired a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) last year, the Franco-Dutch carrier would rather avoid any further acquisitions at this point in time, Gagey said.

The Italian carrier is unlikely to find a new owner before general elections scheduled for March 4 as potential investors are waiting for the outcome of the vote, Industry Minister Carlo Calenda has admitted.

Alitalia and its Alitalia CityLiner (CT, Rome Fiumicino) unit began bankruptcy proceedings in May 2017.