Struggling Alitalia has been given a 300-million-euro lifeline by the Italian government as the search for a new owner continues. The €300 million loan is in addition to a €600m facility already provided in May by Italian taxpayers to stave off liquidation as special administrators sought a buyer. Now an already extended deadline to find a new owner has been moved from October 16 to April 30 next year. The government also extended the deadline repayment of the existing loan, originally due next month, to the end of September 2018. Lufthansa has expressed some interest in the Italian flagship but not its current state. “Alitalia as it exists today is not up for debate,” Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr told European media last week. “But if there was an opportunity to create a new Alitalia, then Lufthansa as the number one in Europe would be interested in talk.” Ryanair, accounts for almost a quarter of the market in Italy, was a potential suitor and was at one stage was looking at taking as many as 90 aircraft. But the Irish no-frills carrier is grappling with thousands of cancellations due pilot rostering problems and late last month said it was withdrawing from the Alitalia bidding to eliminate all management distractions. The Italian government indicated it would not renationalise the carrier after after the airline’s workers earlier this year rejected a 2 billion euro restructuring deal that would have seen job losses and pay cuts. The airline is estimated to have lost 3 billion euros since it last emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 Major shareholder Etihad Airways, which owned 49 per cent of Alitalia, said it was not prepared to continue to invest in the airline without support for the restructuring. Etihad invested 1.7 billion euros in Alitalia in 2014 and was also burnt by the collapse of airberlin. Lufthansa recently confirmed it would pay €210m for parts of airberlin.