Alitalia is in talks with Etihad Airways on a commercial deal that may lead to the Abu Dhabi-based carrier taking a stake in the money-losing Italian company, daily il Sole 24 Ore reported.
Neither Alitalia nor Etihad could be reached for comment.
Citing unnamed sources, the paper said there had been several meetings in recent weeks between managers at both companies, including recently appointed Alitalia chief executive Gabriele del Torchio.
Del Torchio, who is known as a turnaround specialist, was recruited earlier this year to lead the struggling Italian airline back to profitability.
Alitalia, which is 25 percent owned by Air France-KLM, was rescued from bankruptcy in 2008, when it was bought by a consortium of Italian companies including bank Intesa Sanpaolo, road operator Atlantia and holding company IMMSI.
In its industrial plan presented in July, the new CEO said the company planned to increase its financial resources by EUR€300 million (USD$400 million) by the end of this year.
Alitalia and Etihad were mentioned in the context of a possible tie-up earlier this year, but Etihad said at the time there were no talks between the two firms beyond those on code sharing.