Shares in Italian national airline Alitalia have risen after a report said that Air France was preparing to buy a major stake in the ailing carrier.
Will Alitalia take off under the wings of Air France?
Alitalia's shares rose by more than 3% in Milan as investors speculated Air France would bid for the 49.9% of the Italian carrier that is up for sale.
However, Air France denied the report in Italian news agency Adnkronos that it was about to link up with Alitalia.
Interested parties have until 12 July to bid for the loss-making airline.
The Alitalia auction was in danger of collapse after Aeroflot withdrew from the bidding earlier this week.
Air France has repeatedly countered suggestions that it would intervene by saying it would only bid for Alitalia after the company was turned around.
Mr Spinetta may be playing a long game for Alitalia
Jean-Cyril Spinetta, the Air France boss, stepped down from the Alitalia board in January 2007.
Mr Spinetta's resignation was interpreted as preparing the ground for an Air France bid.
The Italian airline suffers from industrial problems, poor cost control, fierce competition and is in need of major investment.
Aeroflot pulled out of the bidding saying it had been denied "critical information" about Alitalia's status.
That move left just one declared bidder, a consortium led by Italian airline Air One, willing to purchase Alitalia.
The Italian government is selling up to 49.9% of the airline and has already extended the auction by 10 days.