Italy’s new airline ITA takes off, as Alitalia is permanently grounded

Today, Alitalia was officially replaced by Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), a new state-owned carrier. After years of financial difficulties and unsuccessful rescue attempts, the 75-year-old one-time emblem of Italian elegance and luxury is finally grounded with the debut of ITA.

An early morning flight from Milan landed in the southern city of Bari just before 0700 CEST, marking the first flight of the new, shrunken carrier, which is dressed in the same green-white-red livery as its predecessor.

Alitalia has been operated by state-appointed administrators since 2017 to prevent being liquidated, despite being the customary pick of popes, prima donnas, and Italy’s political elite. The 1946-founded airline has gone through a whirlwind of restructurings and ownership changes.

This century, the corporation has only had one profitable year, and the government has rescued it numerous times, spending more than €8 billion in the last three years alone. Alitalia’s historic brand was sold to ITA for €90 million, less than a third of what Alitalia had hoped for, the carrier announced late Friday.

Politics and private investors are plaguing the company

Alitalia’s final rites were surrounded by political controversy, with the far-right opposition party Brothers of Italy blaming Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government for the airline’s collapse. “Today we are losing another jewel, a corporation that has created our nation’s history and… made us happy to be Italian,” said Giorgia Meloni, the party’s head.

After attempting to sell Alitalia to private investors, Rome gave in to the pandemic’s terrible effects on the airline industry in 2020 and opted to construct ITA from its ashes. The government will invest 1.35 billion euros over three years in the new carrier, which will begin with 52 jets and 2,800 personnel, compared to Alitalia’s 110 planes and 10,000 people.

According to a settlement struck with the European Commission, Alitalia and its successor must have a clear separation, and the new carrier must be profitable by the conclusion of its 2021-2025 business plan. Alitalia’s legacy of high expenses, mismanagement, and considerable political and trade union influence, on the other hand, may be difficult for ITA to overcome.

The introduction of a more agile carrier casts doubt on the future of more than 7,000 Alitalia employees, who will be placed on a government-funded temporary layoff scheme until at least the end of 2022.

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