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Ryanair reiterates offer to buy "restructured" Alitalia

Irish airline would invest as long as it got majority of Alitalia.

Low-cost Irish airline Ryanair has reiterated its offer to buy the troubled Alitalia carrier but only if "major changes" were made and it became the majority owner, Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary told Italian news agency ANSA.

O'Leary said that Etihad, which acquired a 49 per cent stake in Alitalia in 2014, was now "out of the game" and that if Ryanair could not get a majority of the "restructured" Alitalia then it was "not interested".

The Ryanair boss outlined the changes he deemed necessary as: "tearing up the deal with Air France, renegotiating the airport deals with [Rome airport company] ADR, where Alitalia is currently paying very high costs, revising the leasing contracts and cutting the number of staff because the company doesn't need all those extra people".

Etihad Airways saved Alitalia from bankruptcy in 2014 by investing €1.76 billion for 49 per cent of the struggling airline.

A group of Italian shareholders, including Italy's two largest banks UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, retains a 51 per cent stake in Alitalia.

Ryanair has a bigger share of the Italian market than Alitalia, carrying 36 million passengers in the 12 months ended on 31 March, according to The Irish Times. However it is the long-haul routes, particularly those to the north and south American continents, that have always been of interest to potential investors.

The no-frills Irish airline, which flies 1,800 daily flights across 33 countries, posted a record profit of €1.32 billion in May this year.

Ryanair is not the only company that is showing a potential interest in restructuring Alitalia. On 6 June Alitalia's extraordinary commissioner told ANSA that "32 expressions of interest" had been received and were being assessed.

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