UK low-cost carrier (LCC) easyJet has confirmed it is among the parties that have expressed an interest in troubled Italian flag carrier Alitalia, which is separately facing strike disruption June 17.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways' equity partner Alitalia went into special administration in May after employees voted against a labor agreement, which was critical to the carrier’s turnaround plan.

Special commissioners called for parties to declare their interest by June 5, which attracted 32 expressions of interest, including Irish LCC Ryanair that is interested in a connecting flight partnership.

“We can confirm we are interested,” CEO Carolyn McCall told ATW at a media event in Toulouse June 14. She added: “We are not allowed to comment on the process, whatsoever. We have been asked by the government not to make any comments on Alitalia.”

In general, McCall described Italy as a core market for easyJet and said she sees further opportunities there.

When asked whether Alitalia’s troubles had benefited easyJet, she said: “Everyone in Italy has benefited from the uncertainty surrounding Alitalia, but I don’t think it is a significant material benefit.”

Alitalia previously said it would open up its data to qualifying potential partners June 15-20, but the identity of interested parties was confidential.

Separately, Alitalia’s operations will be disrupted by a general transport sector strike scheduled for June 16.

“The company was forced to cancel several domestic and international flights scheduled for June 16, as well as some flights in the early morning of June 17. Flights departing from Italy will operate as usual between 07:00 and 10:00 and between 18:00 to 21:00 Rome time on June 16,” Alitalia said.

The airline added that extra staff will be available at Rome Fiumicino and Milan Linate airports to handle the disruption, and larger aircraft will be deployed on several domestic and international routes to carry as many passengers as possible.

Victoria Moores