Fresh doubts have been cast over a rescue for loss-making Alitalia after a potential suitor pulled out.

Italian infrastructure group Atlantia said it was not ready to join a consortium led by the country’s railway provider Ferrovie dello Stato to bail out the flag carrier.

The group controlled by the Benetton family said that the conditions did not exist yet for it to join a consortium working on Alitalia despite months of negotiations.

But Atlantia added that it remained available to engage in negotiations to seek for an industrial partner for the carrier.

A deadline to present a binding offer for Alitalia expires tomorrow (Thursday), after being postponed several times.

Alitalia has been run by special administrators since May 2017 and talks led by Ferrovie have been going on for a year without a deal.

Ferrovie and Atlantia have been in talks with both Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa, Reuters reported.

Delta was ready to invest €100 million in Alitalia but sources had said it did not agree with Ferrovie and Atlantia over the development of the Italian carrier’s long-haul business.

Lufthansa said it was prepared to set up a commercial partnership with the Italian carrier but did not want to take a stake in the group before it has gone through a complete restructuring.

“We will not invest in current Alitalia, but we are interested being a commercial partner,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica said on Tuesday that the airline could be nationalised for some years before being sold.

Analysts calculate that Italian taxpayers have spent more than €9 billion to support Alitalia, which has undergone two previous failed rescue attempts.