Deutsche Lufthansa has officially confirmed its interest in taking over the Italian airline ITA Airways. According to its own statements, the Frankfurt group submitted a new offer to the Italian government on Wednesday, which owns the successor to the airline Alitalia. Lufthansa is therefore initially aiming for a minority stake and “options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date”.

“For the Lufthansa Group, Italy is the most important international market outside of its home markets and after the USA,” the airline said. “Italy’s economy is strongly export-oriented and therefore also of great importance for business travel.” Added to this is the importance of Italy as a holiday destination.

Lufthansa did not give financial details of its offer. As the Bloomberg news agency reported, a minority stake of 40 percent could cost Lufthansa up to 350 million euros. The Lufthansa Group already includes Brussels and Austrian Airlines. The Belgian airline had also taken over Lufthansa in several stages.

The sale of ITA Airways has been hanging in the balance for months. The government in Rome – then still under Prime Minister Mario Draghi – initially preferred an offer from the US investment fund Certares, which owns Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines. A joint offer by Lufthansa together with the Swiss shipping group MSC had long been considered the favourite.

However, negotiations with Air France-KLM did not bring a breakthrough. The new government under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was openly skeptical about Certares’ offer. At the beginning of January, she reopened the negotiations and seemed to prefer Lufthansa as the buyer. MSC had meanwhile dropped out.

The German airline has now confirmed its interest in entering the Italian market alone. Air France-KLM had announced shortly before that it would no longer seek a stake in ITA Airways.

The airline emerged from the insolvent airline Alitalia and is currently 100 percent owned by the Italian state. Rome joined Alitalia in 2017, but did not find an investor for a long time. In the past 20 years, the Italian state has spent more than 13 billion euros to keep the airline afloat.