Defunct Italian airline Alitalia is set to return to the air in the coming months, which probably won’t surprise many industry analysts, but contradicts what the new owners of the Alitalia brand claimed last October.
The heavily loss-making Alitalia was eventually dissolved by the Italian government at the end of 2021 in a years-long process that culminated in a new state-owned airline known as Italia Trasporto taking its place. Aereo or ITA Airways.
ITA Airways bought the Alitalia brand for 90 million euros in what was widely seen as a ruse to circumvent EU state aid rules. Alitalia would continue to fly, but only as a brand owned by ITA Airways and no longer encumbered by government loans that needed to be repaid.
That was not what ITA Airways claimed when the carrier launched in November 2021. The airline introduced itself to the world with a lavish ceremony that included the unveiling of a new aircraft livery sporting the famous Savoy Blue. by Italian national sports teams and athletes.
Alitalia’s name and assets were simply bought to prevent rivals from taking over the brand, senior executives claimed. Moreover, the purchase of the brand was a bargain compared to the 290 million euros that the directors had originally requested.
But it turns out that Alitalia’s disappearance was exaggerated. In fact, in comments reported by Corriere Della Sera, ITA Airways chairman Alfredo Altavilla insists this has always been part of the plan to integrate the Alitalia brand into the new company.
Explaining why ITA bought the Alitalia brand from government ministers, Altavilla said it allowed launching with a crew wearing the same uniforms as before the takeover. The brand was initially withdrawn, but the ITA now believes Alitalia can be used in the same way as other European airline groups have different brands.
While Altavilla mentioned Eurowings and Transavia, Corriere said there were no plans to make Alitalia a low-cost airline. Altavilla did not give more details on Alitalia’s major project, but a final decision on its future will only be taken by the board of directors on January 31.
ITA Airways has already painted two aircraft in its bold new livery. The airline has taken over 52 ex-Alitalia planes and nearly 3,000 of its employees.
At the end of last year, ITA signed an agreement with Airbus for 28 new aircraft, including 10 A330neo long-haul aircraft. ITA also intends to lease A350s as well.
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