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With a deadline for binding bids for bankrupt Alitalia closing in, an Italian newspaper reported Monday that German carrier Lufthansa is preparing a 500-million-euro ($590 million) offer that would add Italian assets to those it is already picking up from Air Berlin.
Bidders have until 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) to submit binding offers for the carrier, which fell into bankruptcy last May after its main stakeholder, Etihad airlines, said it would not extend additional financing. So far, no airline has publicly confirmed its intention to bid.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera says Lufthansa is preparing a 500 million-euro ($590 million) bid for large parts of Alitalia, including the fleet, pilots, air crew and air slots.
Citing three unidentified sources, the daily said that Lufthansa’s plan calls for cutting 6,000 jobs and reducing the airline’s short- and medium-haul routes, which have suffered under the pressure from low-cost airlines.
Alitalia declined to comment.
Lufthansa recently reached a deal to buy parts of the bankrupt carrier Air Berlin. Both Air Berlin and Alitalia have been controlled by Gulf airline Etihad, which cut off financing to both.
The Italian government has extended 600 million euros in bridge loans, plus another 300 million euros last week to keep the airline operating through next summer.
Once the bids are accepted, the government has given bidders until the end of April to fine-tune and improve the offer, followed by a period of review by European antitrust authorities that can last four to six months.
The government tender gives preference to bidders seeking to buy the carrier intact, with the main goal being to avoid a fire-sale of assets to multiple bidders. It also allows the possibility to isolate the aviation departments, comprising some 8,000 employees including pilots and flight attendants, from ground crews and handling, which comprise 3,600 workers.