ITA will replace Alitalia from October

New carrier will try once again to prove that Italy is capable of having an air travel representative

On October 15, Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) will start operations, the new carrier revealed this week.

The company’s mission is to replace the current Alitalia, also an unsuccessful re-edition of the original airline, born in 1946 and which succumbed in December 2008. The following year, a new Alitalia emerged with the profitable assets of the old one.

The “new Alitalia”, however, did not change the bad habits of the old, accumulating losses, even with partnerships with important groups such as Air France-KLM and Etihad. In May 2017, the airline filed for bankruptcy and was nationalized.

Since then, the Italian government has tried to find private groups interested in taking it over, which has not happened. Last year, the company was completely taken over by the government amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

ITA brand

The solution was to found a new airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo, created in 2020 and which has just been approved by the European Commission.

However, the new company will come up with several challenges ahead. Although it uses a new brand, which also bears the Italian flag, ITA could become Alitalia as long as it wins a brand auction to be held in the future.

ITA called the brand “an essential element for the plan,” in a statement released on Thursday.

After replacing Alitalia in October, ITA will keep only part of the routes and planes. There will be 52 aircraft (seven of them widebodies), but they should reach 78 units, including the arrival of 13 new long-range aircraft. The goal in 2025 is to have a fleet of 105 aircraft.

Alitalia DC-4 (Ken Fielding)

Smaller than Alitalia

Initially, 61 routes will be operated to 45 destinations, but that will be expanded to 74 in 2025. During the next summer, ITA should resume international flights to some intercontinental routes such as Washington, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

ITA will concentrate its flights in two hubs, Milan Linate, with 85% of Alitalia slots, and Roma Fiumicino (43% of slots).

Between 2,750 and 2,950 employees will form the staff responsible for operating the airline, reaching 5,700 people in four years. Maintenance activities and handling services will be auctioned by Alitalia separately, but ITA will participate in the competition. The company should hire another 4,000 people for these divisions if it wins.

Alitalia Boeing 747-200 (Aldo Bidini)

“The approval of ITA’s business plan by the European Commission and the confirmation of compliance with the MEOP, which certifies the soundness of the project in terms of private investment by the public shareholder, is an important result that paves the way for the launch of ITA. Now, within 90 days, we should complete the transition leading to the take-off of the first aircraft on 15 October,” said Alfredo Altavilla, ITA’s executive chairman.

The approved plan envisages reaching break even in the third quarter of 2023, and making a profit of 209 million euros in 2025.

Despite the optimism, the path for the new Italian airline will be tough. ITA will debut possibly smaller than Ryanair, the aggressive Irish low-cost airline, which plans to operate 100 routes from Italy this summer. And it still has to prove that the carrier learned the lesson from the mistakes of its predecessors.

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