MILAN, April 13 Gabriele Del Torchio, chief
executive of Italian motorcycle maker Ducati, is the
front-runner to take on the driver's seat at loss-making airline
Alitalia, Italian newspapers reported on Saturday.
Alitalia's former chief executive Andrea Ragnetti quit after
only a year in the job in February as the struggling airline
company reported a net loss of 280 million euros ($367 million)
Alitalia, 25 percent owned by Air France-KLM,
suffered last year from a drop in demand for air travel amid the
euro zone debt crisis and recession in Italy.
The board of Alitalia is expected to name a new chief
executive next week, Il Corriere della Sera said without citing
their sources. Il Messaggero said the board could meet on April
"This is an idea, I haven't signed anything yet," Del
Torchio, known as a turnaround expert at Ducati, told Il
Corriere della Sera.
Alitalia was not immediately reachable for a comment.
Ducati was bought by Volkswagen's division Audi
last year. Revenues rose 16 percent to 606 million euros in
Alitalia was rescued from bankruptcy in 2008, when it was
bought by a consortium made up of Italian companies including
Intesa Sanpaolo, road operator Atlantia and
IMMSI, which also controls scooter maker Piaggio
Air France-KLM, which has held its stake in Alitalia since
January 2009, has said it will probably wait until at least 2014
before using an option to take control of the airline. ($1 =
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; editing by Ron Askew)