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UPDATE 1-Alitalia successor ITA needs a partnership, says deputy minister

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(Adds deputy minister comments, background)

By Francesca Landini

MILAN, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Alitalia's successor Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) needs an alliance to broaden its network and be more efficient, Italy's deputy economy minister said, citing Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and Delta as possible partners.

"Activities are underway to identify a long-term strategic partner," Junior Minister Laura Castelli said, adding the government was seeking an "alliance on equal terms" for the state-owned carrier.

Alitalia is part of the SkyTeam alliance with Air France, KLM and Delta, but ITA will have to negotiate a pact from scratch and could decide to team up with different allies.

Castelli confirmed the new Italian carrier would start flying in place of bankrupt Alitalia on Oct. 15 after the government last month received approval from the European Commission to inject 1.35 billion euros ($1.57 billion) into the airline.

Uncertainty over the future of Alitalia's 11,000 employees has clouded ITA's launch and a strike by staff last month laid bare the problems stemming from the transition between the two airlines.

ITA will start with a fleet of 52 jets and a workforce of 2,800 and is expected to gradually grow to 105 aircraft and 9,650 employees, including workers in the handling and maintenance divisions that could be added, by 2025, Castelli told parliament.

The ITA network will be "skewed towards long-haul routes" compared with Alitalia, Castelli said, adding that under its business plan, the carrier is expected to reach break-even at operating profit level in its second or third year of operation.

Revenue is projected to reach 3.3 billion euros by 2025 from 1.8 billion euros in the first year.

"The challenge is for this to be the last time that we come across a disastrous management for a company that has not looked into the (financial) numbers for too long," Castelli said.

In a statement, ITA said on Tuesday it had received clearance from U.S. authorities to start selling tickets for the United States.

($1 = 0.8621 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Cristina Carlevaro and Barbara Lewis)

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