State-owned Alitalia has finally relaunched under a new name that doesn’t have Alitalia in it. The new airline is called ITA (Italia Trasporti Aereo). But don’t worry nostalgic ones, Alitalia won’t be disappearing.
Alitalia Is Now ITA
Ironically, the pandemic has helped many of the weakest airlines, including beleaguered Alitalia. While a broad range of airlines have received government bailouts over the preceding months, poorly-run airlines like Alitalia have received an infusion of state support. In fact, Alitalia is now fully state-owned by the Italian Ministry for the Economy. And with that new ownership comes a new name, Italia Trasporti Aereo (Italy Air Transport).
But the Alitalia branding will remain at airports and on airplanes. Familiarity may breed contempt, but Alitalia is a household name around the world and the new company will borrow upon that tradition.
Many questions remain unanswered. One is where the company is located. The company declares it is located within the “Municipality of Rome” but no address has been provided (existing headquarters at Rome Fiumicino Airport are a safe guess, though). More importantly, the carrier’s strategy for long-term flourishing has only been generally revealed.
Alitalia Will Target North America, Japan
With fierce competition within Europe from both full-service network carriers and budget airlines, Alitalia will target longhaul travel. Specifically, Alitalia will closely coordinate with Italian rail to funnel in longhaul travel via its Rome and Milan hubs, with specific emphasis to North America and Japan. Per CEO Fabia Maria Lazzerini:
“The long-range means privileging the North American market, which is an underserved and extremely profitable market where further expansion is needed. South America is to be preserved, we have to think about Asia and China while Japan is doing very well.”
Lazzerini was Alitalia’s long-term Chief Commercial Officer.
There are no plans for Alitalia to leave SkyTeam. It will be capitalized with €3 billion and preserve 6,500 jobs and 90 aircraft. A fleet renewal plan is still under consideration.
Launching a new carrier during a global pandemic is hardly ideal, but have times ever been ideal for Alitalia? With the full backing of the state, Alitalia will emerge from the pandemic much stronger than when it entered. The question now, however, is whether this version of Alitalia will turn out as hopelessly as the previous two versions. EU authorities must also still approve the new company, specifically weighing whether such state funding is valid under EU laws restricting state aid.
Alitalia got the support that Air Italy never did. Now Alitalia has a clean slate. Will it finally rise to the occasion or remain a basket case?
image: Alitalia ITA