Loss-making Alitalia is seeking ways to raise more than €400 million to keep itself afloat, according to reports.

Investment bank Leonardo & Co has been hired to help tackle a liquidity crisis that may see the Italian carrier run out of cash before the end of the year.

Alitalia told Reuters it had hired the bankers to “assist the company in its relationships with the banks.”

The airline, which quadrupled its net loss to €280 million in 2012 compared with the year before, said in July it needed €300 million this year to keep running but expected to break even by 2015.

Salary cuts with unions were agreed in June and its chief executive and board members reduced their pay by 20% ahead of the drawing up of a new strategic plan.

The airline, which is a quarter owned by Air France-KLM, was rescued from bankruptcy in 2008 and bought by a consortium of Italian companies.

The investors might sell out after the expiry in mid-October of a lock-up period, paving the way for new shareholders.

But Etihad Airways has distanced itself from reports in Italian newspapers that it may take a stake in Alitalia.