Addio Alitalia: debt-making flag carrier takes off for the last time

Shutterstock / Simone Previdi

The prolonged Alitalia’s saga gets to an end. The flag carrier of Italy is about to take off for its last flight after 74 years in operation. 

On the evening of October 14, 2021, Alitalia will make its final flight AZ1586 from Sardinia to Rome, Italy. According to the data, the airline‘s Airbus A320 aircraft, registered as EI-DSV will carry out its last takeoff under Alitalia‘s callsign from Cagliari Airport (CAG) at 10.05 p.m. (UTC) and is supposed to land at Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome at around 11.10 p.m. (UTC). The debt-making carrier has already warned its passengers that all services from October 15, 2021, will be canceled as the airline is officially closing.

Alitalia, which firstly commenced operations in 1974, had been operating unprofitable for years and went into a special administration in 2017, which later led to its bankruptcy. In order to keep the carrier flying, the Italian government attempted to sell the airline. The list of potential investors included state railway company Ferrovie Dello Stato, infrastructure group Atlantia, European carriers EasyJet, Ryanair, Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Wizz Air, Air France-KLM, and the U.S. legacy carrier Delta Airlines (DAL). However, none of their offers was deemed suitable by the government. 

Later, due to the COVID-19 pandemic slump, Alitalia‘s losses increased as it started burning around €2 million in cash every month. Thus in October 2020, the transport minister of Italy signed a decree under which the government approved the establishment of a new state-owned air carrier that should take over the role of the debt-making carrier.

The newcomer Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) became the successor to take over Alitalia’s place together with all its 52 airport slots. While the old Alitalia prepares for the switch off, the new national airline and flag carrier prepares for its upcoming launch on October 15, 2021. The new carrier has already received its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Italian National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) on August 18, 2021, and has a promising business plan.

Most recently, at the end of September 2021, the newborn Italian carrier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Airbus over the purchase of 28 new jets, including 11 A321 neo Family jets, 10 A330s, and seven A220 aircraft. In the meantime, ITA also agreed with Air Lease Corporation (ACL) over the lease of 31 planes, including 15 A220s, nine A321neos, five A330-900s, and two A320neo aircraft.

Following its strategy, ITA plans to expand its fleet gradually with a target to operate 80 aircraft by the end of 2022, and over 105 jets by the end of 2025. ITA also aims to increase the number of its employees from 5,550 up to 5,700 people by 2025.

The initial network of the carrier will include mixed operations of short as well as long-haul destinations. As outlined in its business plan, ITA will fly to 45 destinations and operate 61 routes in 2021. The company will expand the network to 74 destinations and 89 routes by the end of 2025.


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