Ryanair is interested in taking part in a tender to buy slots at Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino airports if Alitalia puts them on the block, the Irish low-cost has said.

Loss-making Alitalia has endured 12 years of turbulent private management and three failed restructuring attempts, with the government now seeking to nationalise and relaunch the ailing carrier after the pandemic scuppered plans to sell it.

Under the nationalisation project, the government plans to inject €3bn into a new company dubbed ITA that would take over the assets of the old Alitalia.

The European Commission, however, has rejected the idea that the old carrier could sell its belongings to ITA in a private negotiation.

"As part of its state aid investigation into Alitalia's new company, the European Commission advised the Italian government to put Alitalia's assets to a competitive tender, including its Linate and Fiumicino slots," Ryanair said in an emailed statement.

"Ryanair has expressed an interest in participating in such a tender," the carrier added, confirming it had sent a letter to Rome.

Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Sunday that Ryanair had written to Italy's industry and transport ministries saying it was ready to bid for Alitalia's slots and other assets.

The government declined to comment on the issue.

An industry source said that the sale of Alitalia's slots was a politically controversial and also technically complicated issue, adding that Alitalia had never ceded its slots in key Italian airports in the past.