MILAN (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Alitalia rebuffed on Tuesday an offer from low-cost airline Ryanair (RY4B.IR) to feed passengers into its long-haul routes and help boost the Italian carrier's profitability.
"Alitalia ... has its own strategy, an industrial plan, a fleet and its own crew that allow it to have the necessary passenger traffic to feed its international and intercontinental connections leaving from the hub at Fiumicino
Budget airlines are usually based further from city centers, and Dublin-based Ryanair wanted to leverage the new routes it has secured from Rome's Fiumicino, which is also Alitalia's hub.
"Ryanair believes that its offer to feed Alitalia's international hub at Fiumicino, and seek opportunities to work together and help Alitalia to recover, can help new investors and Alitalia's management in returning to profitability and reliability," Ryanair said in a statement.
Alitalia, the target of a government-engineered 500 million euro ($678.02 million) rescue plan, said it had its own restructuring plan in place and offered similar prices to Ryanair, suggesting the two firms were not natural partners.
"At hub airports in all developed countries, cooperation is avoided between hub carriers and low-cost airlines. It is not by chance that low-cost airlines find space and operate in small airports dozens of kilometers from the cities," it said.
Italy's flag carrier has made a profit only a few times in its 67-year history and is running out of cash again.
The deadline for shareholders to subscribe to a 300 million euro capital increase, intended to buy the airline time as it looks for a cash-rich foreign partner, expires on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Alitalia's board approved a revised business plan, promising deep cost cuts to make the struggling airline more competitive.
($1 = 0.7374 euros)
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Isla Binnie; editing by David Evans)