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MSC and Lufthansa set sights on Alitalia successor

MSC Group has set its sights on becoming the first global cruise brand to take ownership of an airline.

The parent company on MSC Cruises revealed it has expressed interest to the Italian government in acquiring a majority stake in ITA Airways, the successor to bankrupt Alitalia.

The MSC Group aims to create a partnership with the Italian government and Lufthansa as the project’s “industrial partner”.

The German airline group has already shown an interest in taking part in the initiative.

The move triggers a period of 90 business days for exclusive negotiations, subject to regulatory approvals and due diligence.

A statement from the European shipping giant said: “MSC Group’s interest derives from the possibility of activating positive synergies for both companies in the cargo and passenger sectors where the MSC Group is a global leader.”

Confirming the approach from MSC Group and Lufthansa, the airline said: “ITA Airways is satisfied that the work carried out in recent months to offer the best prospects to the company is starting to have the expected results, providing for a company recognised as viable for partners of international reputation both in passenger and cargo transport.

“The board of directors will examine the details of the expression of interest in an upcoming meeting.”

State-owed ITA emerged from the ashes of Alitalia in November 2020.

Its growing fleet size will see the airline operate 78 aircraft this year, up by 26 on 2021, including 13 widebodies.

ITA already has numerous codeshare deals, including with SkyTeam alliance partners Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM.

The aims is to gradually introduce new-generation aircraft to replace older models from this year with ambitions for the fleet to grow to 105-strong by 2025.

ITA’s business is focused on a hub at Rome Fiumicino airport and Milan Linate, initially flying to 44 destinations with 59 routes, growing to 74 destinations and 89 routes by 2025, with a focus on long-haul.

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