Italian state-owned rail company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) has confirmed that it would work on a potential partnership with Delta Air Lines and EasyJet to prepare a rescue plan for the troubled Alitalia airline.

The announcement comes after EasyJet and Delta expressed their willingness to forge an alliance with FS in the rescue plan.

The deal is set to become the third in a decade for the Italian airline, which went into special administration in 2017 after workers rejected a recapitalisation plan.

Last week, the Italian Government stated that it is interested in investing in the creation of a new company to manage Alitalia, provided the new business plan is sustainable and in line with European rules.

“Alitalia faced fierce competition from high-speed trains and low-cost carriers, which affected that company’s profits.”

Alitalia faced fierce competition from high-speed trains and low-cost carriers, which affected that company’s profits.

According to a Bloomberg report, EasyJet and Delta are considering the joint acquisition of a 40% stake of the airline.

In a statement, Ferrovie dello Stato said: “In light of the confirmation of interest received from Delta Air Lines and easyJet in being industrial partners of FS Italiane in the Alitalia deal, the board of directors of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane held today has decided to start a negotiation with the aforementioned airline companies, in order to proceed with the definition of the main aspects of the new Alitalia Plan.”

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Lufthansa had also expressed an interest to bid for Alitalia on the condition that the troubled airline first enforced job cuts. The German carrier made it clear that it wanted whole-ownership of the airline without co-ownership by the Italian government.

As part of the administration process, the government extended a bridge loan of $1bn to help it stay afloat until the completion of the sale plan.

The sale was planned to be concluded last April. However, the process was delayed due to a change in government.