ROME, ITALY — The largest U.S. carrier Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM Group have expressed a joint interest in a majority stake in Italy's flag carrier ITA Airways, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported today.

A government source said an expression of interest letter was presented to Italy's government. The letter reports that Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM aim to obtain the majority stake of Ita with the support of an international fund that invests in travel and tourism companies.

A further expression of interest arrived from another international fund, which is already invested in low-cost carriers, the paper added.

Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic said in an emailed statement they were committed to working with the new Alitalia management "to deepen our cooperation, including potential associate membership of the airlines' expanded joint venture launched in 2020" but declined to comment further.

The move comes after Germany's Lufthansa has teamed up with shipping group MSC to secure a stake in ITA.