April 11, 2018 / 2:36 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Italy says one Alitalia bid shows "concrete steps forward"

(Adds Wizz Air is third bid, background)

ROME, April 11 (Reuters) - One of the three offers Italy has received for insolvent airline Alitalia provides “concrete steps forward in terms of routes and personnel,” the Industry Ministry said on Wednesday, without naming its preferred option.

EasyJet said on Tuesday it had submitted a revised expression of interest in Alitalia as part of a consortium, while Lufthansa said it had submitted a document setting out its ideas for a “new” Alitalia.

Budget carrier Wizz Air, which said in January it would only be interested in the short haul business, has made the third offer, a source close to the situation told Reuters. Wizz Air declined to comment.

The Italian government has been seeking new investors for almost a year, but the sale process was delayed as a result of uncertainty over last month’s national election, which ended in a hung parliament.

All political parties, which have yet to find a compromise on the formation of a coalition government, will be consulted about the terms of the sale negotiations, the ministry said in a statement.

Alitalia was once a symbol of Italy’s post-war economic boom, but it now struggles to compete against low-cost carriers and high speed trains at home.

With a headcount of about 12,000, Italy wants a buyer willing to guarantee the airline’s survival without having to make big staff cuts.

Germany’s Lufthansa in November said its offer was for a large part of Alitalia’s fleet, but only half its staff. Details of its new offer have not been released.

Several Italian media have reported this week that easyJet was teaming up with private equity firm Cerberus and Air France-KLM for its bid for Alitalia, but Air France-KLM said on Tuesday it had no interest in bidding.

Cerberus did not reply to a request for comment.

To facilitate ongoing talks, the Industry Ministry said it would extend the mandate of Alitalia’s three commissioners that is due to expire at the end of the month.

Reporting by Steve Scherer, additional reporting by Sarah Young in London and Agnieszka Flak in Milan; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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