Lufthansa’s ITA Airways Bid Partner MSC Group No Longer Interested

ITA Airways A350-941
Credit: Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo

With shipping group MSC announcing it is no longer interested in a stake in ITA Airways, the onus has shifted to MSC’s former consortia partner Lufthansa to consider another attempt at buying the Italian airline, possibly on its own.  

In a statement, MSC Group, a global leader in the cargo and passenger transport sector, confirmed that it has “informed the competent authorities in Italy that it is no longer interested in participating in the privatization of ITA Airways.”

Lufthansa and MSC had previously been knocked out of the running for ITA Airways, when the Italian government chose a consortium of Certares, Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines for exclusive talks for a stake in the carrier, which was privatized at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.  

But the deadline for those exclusive talks passed at the end of October, leaving open the possibility that Lufthansa and MSC could potentially re-enter the process.  

Now, if Lufthansa does pursue a stake in ITA it will need to find a new partner or go it alone. According to industry sources, it is considering both options. 

According to Italian media reports, Italy’s new government headed by prime minister Giorgia Meloni wants to sell off around two-thirds of ITA, keeping the rest in state hands.  

Air France-KLM declined to comment on the latest twist in the saga but said, “Air France-KLM reiterates its interest in fostering closer ties with ITA, as part of the consortium led by Certares and together with its joint venture partner Delta Air Lines.” 

Lufthansa, which as recently as early November said it was still interested in ITA, declined to comment on MSC’s withdrawal.  

ITA has meanwhile been pursuing its fleet development plans, saying earlier in November that it would add 39 new aircraft to its fleet, after signing all the planned commitments for the increase of its fleet. In 2023, 39 new generation aircraft will enter ITA’s fleet, including nine Airbus A330-900 widebodies and 30 narrowbodies. Previous generation aircraft will be phased out. By the end of 2023, 50% of ITA’s planned fleet of 96 aircraft will be new generation aircraft.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.