Etihad Airways and Alitalia are close to agreeing a deal that will see the Abu Dhabi carrier invest in the struggling Italian airline.
The companies yesterday confirmed that they “have entered the final phase of a due diligence process”.
A statement said: “During the next 30 days both companies and their advisors will determine how a common strategy can be developed which meets the objectives of both parties.”
It is unclear how much of an investment Etihad would make in Alitalia, but reports have indicated the stake could be as much as 40 per cent.
The Gulf airline has already taken a share of Air Berlin, Aer Lingus and Virgin Australia.
Just three weeks ago, Etihad Airways and Air Berlin unveiled an Airbus A320 in a new joint livery at an event in Berlin (see news, January 13).
Speaking then, Etihad CEO James Hogan dismisses an italian newspaper report that claimed the deal with Alitalia was just two weeks away from being made public.
He said: “There are no plans to make any announcement at the end of this month.
“What is important in any transaction is that you undertake your due diligence and ensure if you are going to invest, there is a clear plan to move to profitability. We will not be rushed into making a decision.”