EasyJet, Lufthansa make offers for parts of Alitalia

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Rome (AFP)

British budget airline easyJet and German airline Lufthansa both said Monday they have submitted offers for parts of Italy's ailing Alitalia.

The news will spark disappointment in Italy, which wants to sell Alitalia in one package to avoid mass job losses.

The Lufthansa Group said it was after "only parts" of the global traffic network and European and domestic point-to-point business of the national carrier, which it would use to establish a "NewAlitalia".

EasyJet said it too was interested "in certain assets of a restructured Alitalia", without providing details.

The budget airline said there was no certainty that any transaction would proceed.​

The struggling Italian carrier received a boost Friday when Rome said it would add 300 million euros ($355 million) to a bridging loan package and extend its deadline for finding a buyer.

But the Lufthansa and easyJet offers left trade unions cold.

"Today was supposed to be a decisive day for Alitalia's future," the UGL union's secretary Paolo Capone said.

"However as one could expect, in a market of sharks, the offers made are underbids which will have a negative impact on the future employment of its workers," he added.

Alitalia, struggling to compete with low-cost rivals, went into administration at the start of May after staff rejected job and salary cuts as part of a two-billion-euro rescue plan.

In May, Rome said it would provide a 600-million-euro loan to keep the carrier's planes in the air for around six months, staving off liquidation of the flagship airline.

Irish no-frills carrier Ryanair expressed early interest but two weeks ago said it was dropping the idea as it struggles with the fallout from thousands of cancellations of its own flights owing to a pilots' shortage.

If no Alitalia buyer ultimately materialises, the administrators will wind up the airline.