Italian Treasury Extends Alitalia Bid Deadline to July 12

The deadline for the presentation of final bids to acquire up to 49.9% of struggling Italian airline Alitalia has been extended by 10 days to July 12, the Italian government said Thursday.

The government is looking to private investors to buy its stake, as it seeks to turnaround the unprofitable carrier.

The Economics Ministry said in a statement that other conditions remain unchanged. It did not give a reason for the extension.

The bidding process for Alitalia has been beset by concern over a lack of data and shifting guidelines. Under the latest terms outlined by the government, bidders must guarantee that Alitalia retains an Italian identity for at least eight years.

Two bidders remain: AP Holding, which is led by Air One Chairman Carlo Toto and Aeroflot-Russian Airlines, backed by Italian bank UniCredit. Reports said, however, that Aeroflot has pulled out of the competition because it was unhappy with the conditions of the tender.

Alitalia's efforts to turn itself around have been hurt by repeated strikes, high fuel costs and competition from low-cost carriers. Earlier this month, the airline reported a first-quarter net loss of 135 million euros ($180 million), compared with a loss of 159 million euros in the same period last year.