Lufthansa wants to join the Italian airline Ita Airways. An offer had been made to the government in Rome for a minority stake in Alitalia’s successor, the MDax group said on Wednesday in Frankfurt.

The Italian state, as the sole owner, must now examine whether exclusive negotiations with Lufthansa for a final purchase agreement can be started. Lufthansa also wants an option to later acquire the remaining shares. Amounts were not mentioned.

The Ita started in October 2021 as a significantly smaller and debt-free successor to Alitalia, which finally had to give up despite large government aid in the Corona crisis. The Ita has flown only losses since the beginning and also had to be supported by the state. With around 4,000 employees and 66 aircraft, it has a market share of around 20 percent in its home country.

The data room in Rome that was set up for the new sales process is closing this Wednesday evening. It was initially unclear whether another bidder would remain in the running. Most recently, negotiations with the financial investor Certares had not led to a conclusion. The Italian government only wants to sell Ita shares to airlines.

The Lufthansa Group has been trying for years to gain a stronger foothold in the important market beyond the Alps, which also attracts with strong US business. A takeover of Alitalia was considered several times. In the end, the Italian state repeatedly saved the Pope’s main airline, which had been privatized in the meantime, with large financial injections. However, the government was no longer able to prevent the final bankruptcy in the Corona crisis.