Italian flag carrier ITA Airways has just taken delivery of its first brand-new Airbus A321neo, which has been fitted out in a three-class configuration with just 165 seats, including 12 fully flat Business Class seats.
In comparison, Lufthansa, which recently acquired a 41% stake in ITA Airways and plans to transform the Rome-based carrier, squeezes as many as 215 slimline seats on its A321neo aircraft, and its Business Class cabin features the same light-weight slimline seats as the rest of the plane.
There is, however, a very good reason why ITA Airways has decided to take a decidedly premium approach to its Airbus A321neo’s compared to European rivals who also operate the aircraft type.
ITA Airways intends to use the planes primarily on medium-haul routes and is specifically targeting expansion into premium routes to Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait City, as well as a number of other destinations in the Middle East and Africa ideally suited for the A321neo’s range and economics.
Onboard, ITA Airways has selected Airbus’ signature Airspace cabin design which comes with mood-enhancing and jetlag-reducing LED lighting, new XL overhead bins with enough room for everyone onboard to bring a large carryon bag.
The 12 Business Class seats all come with direct aisle access, while the Premium Economy cabin has seats configured two abreast on either side of the aisle. Of the 141 Economy seats, 12 will be marketed as ‘Comfort Economy’ with a little extra legroom to stretch out.
ITA Airways has ordered a total of nine A321neo’s and the first one was ferried from Airbus’ manufacturing plant in Hamburg to Rome on Friday. The aircraft is due to be inspected by Italy’s aviation regulator before starting commercial flights at some point in the near future – although it remains unclear where the first destination served at the plane will be.
The registration of the aircraft is EI-HXA, with the two first letters denoting that the aircraft is registered in Ireland rather than Italy. That’s because the aircraft is owned by Air Lease Corporation which has its European headquarters in Dublin.
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.