The Swiss national carrier, Swissair, has confirmed that it wants to buy a stake in the loss-making Malaysia Airlines.
The company had said it was interested in a "strategic partnership" with the Malaysian carrier, but Swissair officials confirmed on Monday that their interest goes beyond existing mutual cooperation.
"I can confirm we have asked the [Malaysian] government and the airline to be considered a possible strategic equity partner," said Swissair spokesman, Jean-Claude Donzel.
He added that Swissair's parent company, SAirGroup, intended to conduct a due diligence procedure once it gets the necessary financial data. The Malaysian carrier ran up losses of $184 million (SFr314 million) in the last fiscal year.
Analysts are sceptical that the deal will materialise for Swissair. Britta Simon of Bank Sarasin was quoted as saying: "It would be good in that Swissair would have an Asian partner, but [Malaysia Airlines] is loss-making and the SAirGroup has enough restructuring to do in Europe."
Swissair's move follows reports that a Malaysian tycoon, Tajudin Ramli, had sold a 29 per cent controlling stake in the airline to the government in Kuala Lumpur. It is now expected to sell a large stake in the airline to a foreign partner.
Tajudin said last week that Swissair, KLM and Qantas Airways were all interested in buying a stake.
swissinfo with agencies