Defunct Italian flag carrier Alitalia is set to return to the skies in the next few months in a move that is unlikely to surprise many industry analysts but does contradict what the new owners of the Alitalia brand claimed last October.
The heavily loss-making Alitalia was finally wound up by the Italian government in late 2021 in a years-long process that culminated in a new state-owned airline known as Italia Trasporto Aereo or ITA Airways taking its place.
ITA Airways bought the Alitalia brand for €90 million in what was widely believed to be a ruse to circumvent European state aid rules. Alitalia would continue flying but only as a brand owned by ITA Airways and no longer burdened by government loans that needed to be paid back.
Not so claimed ITA Airways when the carrier launched in November 2021. The airline introduced itself to the world with a lavish ceremony which included the unveiling of a new aircraft livery sporting the Savoy Blue made famous by Italy’s national sports teams and athletes.
The Alitalia name and assets had simply been bought to prevent rivals from getting holding of the brand, senior executives claimed. Besides, buying the brand was a bargain compared to the €290 million that the administrators had originally demanded.
But it turns out that the demise of Alitalia was overstated. In fact, in comments reported by Corriere Della Sera, ITA Airways president Alfredo Altavilla insists it was always part of the plan to integrate the Alitalia brand into the new business.
Explaining why ITA bought the Alitalia brand to government ministers, Altavilla said doing so made it possible to launch with crew wearing the same uniforms as before the takeover. The brand was initially retired but now ITA believes Alitalia can be used in the same way that other European airline groups have different brands.
While Altavilla mentioned the likes of Eurowings and Transavia, Corriere reported that there’s no plan to make Alitalia a low-cost carrier. Altavilla didn’t go into any further detail about the grand plan for Alitalia but a final decision on its future won’t be made until a board of directors meeting on 31st January.
ITA Airways has already painted two aircraft in its bold new livery. The airline took on 52 ex-Alitalia aircraft and nearly 3,000 of its employees.
Late last year, ITA signed a deal with Airbus for 28 new aircraft including 10 A330neo long-haul jets. ITA also intends to lease A350 aircraft as well.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.