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photo: Alitalia

Alitalia and Air India delay buyer deadlines

The governments of Italy and India delay the bid deadlines for their respective national carriers.

India has delayed the closing date for bids to buy 76% of the struggling state-run flag carrier Air India by around two weeks, to May 31.

The country’s Ministry of Civil Aviation says that queries from potential bidders have so far been of a procedural nature, without elaborating who they are from.

The sale also includes Air India Express and the parent company’s 50% stake in ground handler Air India SATS Airport Services. Engineering and transport services will be shifted into a separate company, and the linked hospitality chain Hotel Corporation of India is also not included in the sale.

Uncertainty in Italy
Meanwhile, Italy has pushed back the deadline to choose a buyer for Alitalia by six months to October 31, ATW reports. Repayment of a controversial state bridge loan of €900 million has also been re-dated to December 15.

The move comes as the country endures more political uncertainty. Talks to form a new government have been ongoing for about seven weeks.

Adding to the complications is the fact that the European Commission has opened an investigation to see if Italy’s bridge loan to the airline constituted state aid and whether it complied with EU rules for aid to companies in difficulty.

Lufthansa is thought to be a frontrunner among potential bidders, while easyJet is also reported to be interested as part of a consortium.

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