Ryanair has repeated its desire to take over Alitalia if the Italian carrier, currently in bankruptcy protection, undergoes major restructuring.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair chief executive, confirmed the budget giant is interested in buying Alitalia if there are “major changes”.

Ryanair registered its interested in the Italian carrier in May, saying it would offer to take over Alitalia’s short-haul business and sell its long-haul flights through Ryanair.com.

Speaking in Rome this week, O’Leary said: “We would be interested in a majority stake, not a minority even if it is at 49%.”

Gulf-carrier Etihad currently holds a 49% stake in the Italian carrier, but Alitalia is also party to an agreement with Air France-KLM and the latter’s joint-venture with US carrier Delta Air Lines.

Ryanair is looking to offer connecting flights to traditional carriers’ long-haul services, including those operated by Air France-KLM, and has already struck a connectivity deal with Spanish carrier Air Europa.

The Irish carrier also wants to restructure Alitalia’s “expensive agreement” with Rome airports authority ADR which manages Fiumicino and Campino, reduce Alitalia’s aircraft leasing costs and cut the workforce.

O’Leary pointed out Ryanair flew five times as many passengers as Alitalia last year with fewer employees, and said: “Trade unions have to face reality.”

He said Ryanair was not interested in purchasing Alitalia’s airport slots.

Ryanair already commands a larger share of the Italian short-haul market than the country’s flag carrier.

More on Ryanair:

Ryanair to sell Air Europa long-haul flights

Ryanair introduces 60-day check-in for purchased seats

Ryanair posts profits of €1.3 billion