A fresh start? Alitalia successor ITA Airways takes off for the first time

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The Alitalia brand will live on. Or so many people thought when news emerged on October 14, 2021, that ITA, the successor to the loss-making flag carrier, had acquired the Alitalia brand and website for €90 million ($104 million). 

However, in a surprising twist, the new airline’s management announced on October 15, 2020, that it will be called ITA Airways. The carrier’s planes will have the tricolor on the tail but will be mostly blue. ITA Airways said the blue symbolises unity, cohesion and is also a nod to the shirts worn by the Italian national soccer team, known as “Gli Azzurri”.

“From today the company name is this. It is a name that looks ahead, looks to the future,” Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera cited chief executive Fabio Lazzerini as saying at a press conference in Italy. 

Lazzerini said that ITA acquired the Alitalia brand to keep it out of the hands of rivals. But the new company also said in a statement that acquiring the brand will help it as it transitions the planes it has taken over from Alitalia to their new blue livery. 

Alitalia’s final flight, from Cagliari to Rome, landed at 23.23 on October 14, 2021. ITA Airways’ first flight, an Airbus A320 with flight number AZ1637, departed Milan Linate (LIN) at 6:20 and landed at Bari (BRI) at 7:45.

“For every end there is always a new beginning,” Lazzerini said in the press release. 

ITA Airways begins with a network of 44 destinations and 59 routes, which it intends to increase to 74 destinations and 89 routes by 2025. 

Starting with 52 aircraft, ITA Airways wants to grow its fleet to 78 aircraft in 2022 and 105 in 2025. 

ITA President Alfredo Altavilla said the new brand and livery were symbols of change. “Discontinuity does not mean denying the past, but evolving it to keep up with the times, with a new competitive scenario, with new customers and needs to satisfy.”

Whether ITA Airways can make money remains to be seen. The new airline promised to be “competitive and sustainable”,  touting that it is taking off with the DNA of a start-up. 

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