Deutsche Lufthansa has staying power in Italy: in 1999 it joined Air Dolomiti and in 2003 it took over the majority.

20 years later, a much larger step is now being taken: the German airline wants to take over a “minority share” in ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia.

According to reports, it is around 40 percent.

On Wednesday evening, Lufthansa issued a corresponding declaration of intent to the Italian government for the airline, which had been nationalized for reasons of the crisis.

"Options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date are to be agreed," it said.

A monetary amount is not mentioned.

Christian Schubert

Economic correspondent for Italy and Greece.

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After the USA, Italy is Lufthansa's most important foreign market, the company said.

"Italy's economy is strongly export-oriented and therefore also of great importance for business travel".

In addition, the Mediterranean country is one of the most popular holiday destinations.

Everything indicates that the Italian government will accept the offer;

Lufthansa is unofficially her preferred candidate.

This will be negotiated in the coming months.

Air France-KLM announced on Wednesday that it would not bid.

Should ITA accept all of the 39 machines ordered?

After a successful conclusion, Lufthansa must quickly integrate its new subsidiary, because it is up to its neck in water.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, which has not been denied by ITA, the Italian airline posted earnings before taxes, depreciation and interest of minus 466 million euros last year.

In the current year, the minus should melt to 250 million euros.

Important strategic questions are waiting for answers: Should ITA accept all of the 39 machines ordered, with which the company wants to expand ambitiously, especially since capacity utilization has been very low recently?

Which hubs - Rome or Milan - will be given priority?

Milan is important for the strong northern Italian economy, while Rome is important for tourism, such as direct flights from the United States.

Lufthansa also wants to expand its offers to Africa and Latin America via Rome.

Will ITA merge with Air Dolomiti and will the old Alitalia name come back?

There has also been speculation about this.

In addition, the barely developed ITA freight business is to be expanded under Lufthansa.

The Italian airline is also likely to change the alliance from Skyteam to Star Alliance and enter the "Miles & More" program.

ITA Airways is confident.

Bookings for the period from January to March have increased significantly compared to the same period last year.

When it comes to punctuality, they have become exemplary.

The long-haul destinations should be expanded because they bring higher profits.

However, Lufthansa will also want to use ITA as a feeder for its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.