Alitalia has attracted 32 expressions of interest, including Irish low-cost carrier (LCC) Ryanair, which could include a connecting flight partnership.

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

The Italian government agreed to a €600 million ($666 million) bridge loan to keep the airline flying for six months and special commissioners called for parties to express their interest by June 5.

“Alitalia sources confirm 32 expressions of interest had been received. Now Alitalia commissioners are assessing the many offers in order to decide which of them to admit to Alitalia's data room. The data room will be opened mid-June, between June 15 and June 20. As to the companies, the procedure has to meet certain requirements therefore the names have to remain confidential at this stage,” ATW learned.

While the candidates are not being disclosed, Ryanair has confirmed it is among them.

“We have submitted an expression of interest. As previously stated, we are not interested in buying Alitalia. However, we have offered to feed Alitalia’s long-haul traffic, given we are the largest airline in Italy with the largest route network. We are preparing to deploy up to 20 aircraft initially over a two-week period this summer if Alitalia cuts capacity significantly. We’ve written to the Italian government and said if something untoward happens, don’t worry, we will step into the breach,” a Ryanair spokesman said.

Ryanair recently began offering connections between its own flights at Rome Fiumicino, but the spokesman said this was a long-planned initiative that had no connection with its interest in Alitalia.

Alitalia’s flights continue to operate normally and on June 6, Alitalia announced plans to return to India—after a nine-year absence—with a daily Airbus A330 Rome Fiumicino-New Delhi service, which will launch Oct. 30 and run through the winter until March 24, 2018.

Male in the Maldives will also join Alitalia’s network as of Oct. 31 and the airline’s Los Angeles flights will continue for the winter season.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com