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Russia’s Aeroflot unlikely to buy Alitalia

Russia’s leading air carrier Aeroflot is unlikely to buy the Italian government’s 49.9% stake in cash-strapped Alitalia, Aeroflot’s director said on Friday.

Aeroflot earlier took part in a tender to buy the government stake, but the Alitalia management considered a bid by Air France-KLM more attractive. Buy out talks were later stopped after a deadlock with trade unions. Aeroflot said it had no plans to resume negotiations, but made a u-turn after Vladimir Putin, the then-president of Russia, met with Italian prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi in Sardinia in April.

Valery Okulov said Aeroflot did not have the figures required to assess Alitalia’s current financial state and a final decision would depend on the terms and conditions for the sale approved by the Italian government. “A year ago it was still possible to regulate [it]. Now we are concerned that the point of no return has passed,” Okulov said.

Alitalia’s losses in 2006 were €380 million ($604 million). The strategic investor picked by the Italian authorities will have to implement a rescue plan to save the loss-making carrier. (