Italy’s new national airline ‘ITA’ recently replaced and ended the operations of Alitalia. What exactly is this new airline; is it just Alitalia under a new name? In this article, we will detail an overview of Italy’s new flagship carrier and why this decision was made.
Alitalia’s decline and the birth of ITA
Rome-based airline ‘Alitalia’ was originally the national carrier of Italy from 1946 until it separated from the government and became a private company in 2009 when it merged with a bankrupt Italian airline called ‘Air One.’ As a private company, Alitalia received support from Etihad Airways and the Air France-KLM group, however in 2017, Alitalia’s ties with these organizations ended, and the airline was failing to generate profits. Alitalia was eventually put up for sale by the Italian government after they refused to recognize the airline as its national carrier. After failed attempts to merge with other airlines, the Italian government still ended up taking control of Alitalia in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Due to Alitalia’s unsuccessful operations, the Italian government decided to replace the airline with a new company called “Italia Trasporto Aereo” (ITA) in 2020. Alitalia had cost the Italian government over 13 billion euros in total.
After less than a year of logistics and planning, ITA was launched. The kickoff happened just a day after Alitalia permanently ended operations on Thursday night. ITA’s first flight took off the next day, however, the airline still flew in Alitalia’s colors, as the airline hadn’t been fully finalized yet. At the launch, it was shockingly revealed that ITA would be discontinuing the Alitalia brand and moving forward as its airline. This news was surprising to many people since the day before the launch, ITA had bought Alitalia’s branding and name for 90 million euros, and it was assumed that Alitalia would simply be transferred to new ownership and that they would continue to fly. It turns out, though, that ITA bought Alitalia’s branding so that other organizations couldn’t use it. The news of ITA entering the market as its airline officially marked the end of Alitalia.
Similar to Alitalia, ITA will be based in Rome and fly to an array of international and domestic destinations in North America and Europe. ITA schedules its international routes to begin in November of this year. At this time, ITA plans to serve 45 destinations, but they are anticipating increasing this number to 79 by 2025.
ITA’s current fleet consists of 52 aircraft directly taken from Alitalia, however, in 2025, the airline plans to have less than one-third percent of the aircraft in its fleet come from Alitalia. This is to prevent ITA from following a similar, troubling path like Alitalia in the future. Instead of inheriting Alitalia’s fleet, ITA aims to operate a fleet that consists of 70% of new, more efficient aircraft from Airbus. ITA has already ordered a large number of these fuel-efficient aircraft, such as the A321NEO from Airbus, and it expects delivery to start in 2022. With deliveries coming in the next couple of years, ITA will also lease several aircraft from Air Lease Corporation, and they expect to increase their fleet to 105 aircraft by 2025. ITA’s fleet will consist of a combination of both narrow and wide-body jets. ITA aircraft will be painted in a vibrant, all-blue livery with Italian colors on the tail, a reference to Italy’s sports teams
ITA will have a theme heavily centered on Italian culture. Flight attendants on board the aircraft will be dressed in uniforms designed by top Italian designers, and the food served to passengers will be authentic Italian food. The majority of ITA’s 2800 employees have come from Alitalia so far, but because that amount is only a fraction of Alitalia’s employees, many have been left unemployed. As Italy’s national carrier, ITA wants to bring pride to Italy’s traditions. The airline’s information on more technical things such as baggage policies and fees has not been fully revealed yet, and ITA has also not announced its product in the different seat classes, although it will most likely be related to some Italian aspect. ITA plans to join one of the major 3 airline alliances in the following years, and passengers with frequent flyer miles from Alitalia will be able to transfer the credits to ITA.
Alitalia’s abrupt replacement by ITA and its failed operations in the aviation industry is an event that will go down in aviation history. Hopefully, ITA will take things for a turn for Italian aviation and be as good as, if not better than what Alitalia once was.
- ITA (Cover Photo)