Berlin: Etihad Airways is moving closer to negotiations with Alitalia on a plan to invest in the ailing carrier that was propped up last year by Italy's government.
The Alitalia supervisory board gave its backing for senior management to discuss an investment contract with Etihad, according to a statement on Friday by the Rome-based airline.
Gaining an Alitalia stake would add to a half-dozen holdings that Abu Dhabi-based Etihad owns from Serbia to the Seychelles and Australia. The third-largest Middle Eastern carrier seeks to funnel more traffic through its Abu Dhabi hub, and the Italian market is attractive to airlines because of a large population and location in the heart of Europe.
Alitalia has sought a new major shareholder after Air France-KLM Group bowed out of a rescue package brokered under Italy's supervision.