EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall believes the UK carrier could gain from Alitalia's uncertain future, though she acknowledges that "it's very hard to read what's going to happen there".
Citing reports that Alitalia, which has entered extraordinary administration, could scale back domestic operations to focus on international routes, McCall asserts: "Inevitably it will mean that short-haul capacity will come out of the market. That will lead to opportunities for EasyJet, and we would be interested in those opportunities."
McCall identifies Rome and northern Italy as potential markets where EasyJet could take advantage of any reduction in Alitalia services.
EasyJet's Italy country manager, Frances Ouseley, adds that "on certain routes we are already seeing [Alitalia] capacity coming out of the market".
Asked if EasyJet had so far noticed any change in bookings patterns since the scale of the Italian flag carriers problems became apparent, McCall responded: "I think it is too early; I don't think we're going to get anything sensible [on that issue] for a while yet."
FlightGlobal schedules data for June 2017 shows EasyJet to be the third-largest operator on Italian domestic and international routes, with 1.8 million seats. Ryanair is the largest with 3.7 million seats; Alitalia second with 2.6 million seats.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said earlier this month that the group would assess the Italian market to see whether the situation presented any room to "accelerate" plans for Vueling in the region.