November 7, 2019 / 11:08 AM / 14 days ago

Lufthansa only interested in "restructured" Alitalia-CEO

BERLIN, Nov 7 (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa is only interested in investing in struggling Italian airline Alitalia, which is running out of cash and racing to find new funds, once it has been restructured, its chief executive said on Thursday.

"The technical restructuring of taking elements out, people out needs to be done by the current ownership before we can see ourselves getting involved here," Carsten Spohr told analysts after Lufthansa reported third quarter results.

"We are interested to look at a restructured new Alitalia, if it makes sense to us and our shareholders, our staff and our customers due to the importance of the Italian market."

On Wednesday, Alitalia's administrators said they had no preferred option between Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa, the two groups talking with rail operator Ferrovie dello Stato about a rescue for the Italian carrier.

Ferrovie, which is leading a state-orchestrated effort to rescue Alitalia, will have to choose between the two foreign carriers in the next weeks as the financial performance of Alitalia was deteriorating, the administrators said.

Delta and Lufthansa belong to rival respective airline alliances and are both interested in the lucrative Italian market, one of the world's top tourism destinations which is seeing good growth in foreign visitors.

Lufthansa wrote to Ferrovie recently offering a commercial partnership with Alitalia and saying it could take a stake in the carrier under certain conditions to be agreed with other partners.

Last week, sources close to the matter said Lufthansa is ready to invest up to 200 million euros ($221.72 million) in Alitalia, while Delta has said it is prepared to put 100 million euros in the Italian airline. ($1 = 0.9020 euros) (Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Thomas Escritt)

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