Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) must first free itself from a joint-venture with Air France-KLM Royal Dutch Airlines before it can take advantage of a proposed feeder traffic agreement with Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) the Irish LCC's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael O'Leary has said.

Speaking to the Italian press about a proposal made to Italian Minister of Transport, Graziano Delrio, late last year, O'Leary told Il Messaggero: "In the situation in which Alitalia finds itself, it would be difficult for them to cooperate with us without first unshackling themselves from Air France. It has to resolve the situation with Air France, free itself from the constraints that restrict its longhaul flights, and then it has to cooperate with a company like ours."

Alitalia management has long expressed its displeasure about the venture, negotiated in 2009 prior to Etihad Airways's entry into its shareholding. Under the agreement, Alitalia conceded various Milan Linate slots to the Franco-Dutch carrier while opting to provide feeder traffic to the Paris CDG and Amsterdam hubs of its partner instead of operating its own longhaul services. In May 2015, previous CEO Silvano Cassano terminated the agreement stating that it had been negotiated to the Franco-Dutch carrier's advantage at Alitalia's expense.

Earlier this month, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers warned of the likelihood of the loss of Linate slots should Alitalia withdraw from the venture this quarter. In what appears to be preparation for this event, ch-aviation analysis has shown that both Air France (AF, Paris CDG) and KLM have now filed schedules for some daily flights from Amsterdam and Paris CDG to Milan Malpensa beginning March 26.

Given its increasing dominance of the European regional and domestic market, Ryanair has been reaching out to mainline longhaul carriers to establish feeder traffic agreements to further boost reach as well as revenue streams. Aside from Alitalia, among those confirmed to be in the pipeline, O'Leary said, are Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) and fellow budget carrier, Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen). Whereas reports last year expected the partnerships to be in place by early 2017, O'Leary has told Reuters he now hopes to have them in place by May.