United Arab Emirates-based airline Etihad Airways and Alitalia have signed a deal for Etihad to become a shareholder in the Italian carrier, helping it to pull away from crisis.

The shareholder alliance was signed by the head of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, and the chief executive at Alitalia, Gabriele Del Torchio.

The deal is the fruit of months of difficult negotiations over deep financial and staff problems at Alitalia.

The Italian airline has narrowly survived a succession of financial crises and is now likely to be restructured.