BEIJING (Reuters) - Hainan Airlines (600221.SS) is unaware of any contacts with troubled Italian rival Alitalia, a spokesman for China's fourth-biggest airline said on Wednesday, adding that parent HNA Group would normally lead any merger talks.
HNA and Alitalia were not immediately available for comment.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Wednesday that Alitalia was in preliminary talks with Hainan for a possible partnership, citing sources close to the matter.
At the weekend, another Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero, wrote in an unsourced report that Hainan had expressed an interest in Alitalia in a letter to adviser Rothschild.
Alitalia is carrying out a 300 million euro capital increase as it strives to avoid bankruptcy. Its biggest shareholder, Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA), has not said whether or not it will buy into the rights issue.
Reporting by Fang Yan, additional reporting by Valentina Consiglio in Rome, editing by Mark Heinrich