New Italian national airline ITA takes off, marking the end of Alitalia
Italy’s new national airline first took off on Friday morning, ending the bankruptcy of 75-year-old Alitalia.
An early morning flight that landed in the southern city of Bari signaled the transfer of Alitalia to Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) after years of financial turmoil and rescue attempts that cost the Italian government billions.
ITA took over the Alitalia brand – and the right to use its green, white and red livery – for just 90 million euros, far less than the original price of 290 million euros. The name Alitalia, however, must be dropped.
Under an agreement with the European Commission, the ITA will be economically independent and will not be responsible for illegal state aid received by Alitalia in recent years.
The new carrier will also need to be profitable by the end of its 2021-25 business plan and, according to President Alfredo Altavilla, will be seeking a deal with a larger airline before the end of 2022 as it is too small to stand alone.
“ITA will begin to hold talks to reach an agreement [with another player] from next week, with the aim of completing it by 2022, ”Altavilla said on Friday.
Earlier this month, managing director of U.S. airline Delta Ed Bastian said he was in talks with the ITA over possible joint ventures.
As part of the agreement between Italy and Brussels to allow the new company to operate, the state-owned ITA will start with 52 jets and 2,800 employees, compared to 110 planes and around 10,000 Alitalia employees.
ITA will initially serve 44 destinations, which should increase to 75 by 2025. In addition to central European airport hubs such as London Heathrow and Paris Charles De Gaulle, the carrier will also serve a dozen Italian cities. The airline has also started selling tickets to transatlantic destinations in the United States.
The former Alitalia, which once carried popes, actresses and prime ministers, made its last trip on Thursday evening, with a flight from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Cagliari in Sardinia.
His disappearance was greeted with fierce union protests against the job cuts and the anger of opposition politicians.
Alitalia has faced financial difficulties for decades and has not recorded an annual net profit since the turn of the millennium.
After attempts to find a private buyer failed, Rome took full control of the airline during the coronavirus pandemic, when aviation was hit by strict travel restrictions to control the spread of the virus. She then decides to create the ITA from her ashes.
Some former Alitalia employees have been hired by the new national airline. The salaries of 7,000 workers who have not found a job at the ITA will be paid by the state until at least 2022.