MILAN (Reuters) - The chances of striking a deal on the sale of Italy's struggling carrier Alitalia before national elections due on Mar. 4 are "effectively low", Italy Industry Minister Carlo Calenda said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa on Friday.

Alitalia, which has made a profit only a few times in its history, was put under special administration last year after staff rejected a plan to cut jobs and salaries.

Germany's Lufthansa, British low-cost carrier easyJet (LON:EZJ) and U.S. private equity fund Cerberus are among companies that have expressed an interest in Alitalia, but Calenda said their interest was temporarily on hold pending the outcome of the vote.