Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l) and the Italian state railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) pulled out of an attempt to rescue Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) on January 8, local media reported, plunging the troubled Italian carrier into darker territory.

“We are on a narrow and difficult road,” Italy's Minister of Economic Development Stefano Patuanelli told parliament, warning that the options to save the carrier are “not endless”, according to the news agency AFP.

FS had been trying to create a consortium to save Alitalia, but it has now officially abandoned the process having failed to fully involve other investors. Talks held for over a year with Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) and Atlantia, an operator of motorways and airports, had come to nothing, it admitted.

As previously reported, Lufthansa repeated on January 7 that it was not interested in investing in Alitalia without any major restructuring, in particular, job cuts.

“It was Atlantia who proposed Lufthansa,” Ferrovie dello Stato CEO Gianfranco Battisti said. But as for Atlantia itself, “it became clear how Atlantia's approach was conditioned by other events,” he added during a hearing on Alitalia's future in the Italian Chamber of Deputies Transport Committee, referring to threats by the Italian government to overturn its motorways concession following the collapse of a bridge in Genoa in 2018 that killed 43 people.

Although Atlantia insisted it was still interested in a solution for Alitalia, Patuanelli admitted on January 8 that it was “absolutely unnecessary” to continue negotiations.

“Lufthansa has never formally responded to any initiative we requested,” Battisti clarified, according to the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

One of Alitalia's main issues is “the imbalance between the number of employees and the number of flights”, Umberto Bertele, strategy professor at Politecnico di Milano's School of Management, told AFP. The carrier currently has around 11,000 employees.