Alitalia Is Adding Flights To Johannesburg & Nairobi In 2018

Filed Under: Alitalia

Alitalia filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, after employees voted against pay cuts and layoffs. The Italian government gave them a six month bridging loan, as the airline tries to find new investors. While over six months have passed, it doesn’t look like the Italian government is anywhere close to cutting off Alitalia, as they’re getting a further 300 million EUR loan, and the deadline for finding Alitalia a buyer has been extended to April 30, 2018.

So while airberlin basically began the process of shutting down the second they filed for bankruptcy, it has been very different for Alitalia. It has been business as usual for them, and they’ve even been adding routes to their network. It looks like Alitalia’s growth is continuing even further, with two new longhaul routes.

In 2018, Alitalia will add flights from Rome to both Johannesburg and Nairobi, per @airlineroute.

As of April 8, 2018, Alitalia will offer 4x weekly Airbus A330 flights between Rome and Johannesburg, as follows:

AZ848 Rome to Johannesburg departing 10:10PM arriving 8:20AM (+1 day)
AZ849 Johannesburg to Rome departing 9:00PM arriving 7:25AM (+1 day)

As of March 28, 2018, Alitalia will offer 4x weekly Airbus A330 flights between Rome and Nairobi, with the following schedule:

AZ846 Rome to Nairobi departing 2:00PM arriving 10:10PM
AZ846 Nairobi to Rome departing 12:35AM arriving 7:10AM

Both of these routes represent service resumptions, as Alitalia flew to Johannesburg until 2001, and to Nairobi until 2000.

Alitalia’s A330 business class is in a staggered configuration, which is solid as far as European airlines go.

Alitalia also has an excellent soft product, with great Italian food. It seems like in spite of their financial woes, they haven’t cut back too much in terms of the experience.

Personally I’d choose Alitalia business class over Air France (at least the A380 they fly to Johannesburg), British Airways, Lufthansa, etc.

These new Alitalia flights are already bookable, though as of the time of this post there doesn’t seem to be any award availability. Hopefully that space will open soon enough, as this will be a great new option for redeeming SkyTeam miles to Africa. The Nairobi flight is especially well timed for connections to & from the US.

  1. Odd destination choices and terrible aircraft utilisation. Presumably Nairobi is at least a Skyteam hub for KQ? I assume KQ doesn’t fly to Italy at all?

  2. Among interesting routes, LOT Polish announced WAW-SIN today. 1st flight 15MAY, 3 weekly and 4 weekly since JUL. Availability in award business pretty decent at 2 seats/flt.

  3. Why you ask? Because the other Alitalia routes are so profitable they needed to add on Africa? There must be a better reason that just the Delta dartboard approach to these new routes. Makes me wonder if the people giving the loans are telling them to add such routes for some odd reason.

  4. There are many mysteries about Alitalia – much like anything else in Italy, things are not always as they seem.

    But amongst the many mysteries is why they persist with FCO as their main centre of operations (like adding 2 new long haul routes for example), when Milan is the commercial centre and relatively speaking served very poorly – handful of long haul flights from MXP, the bulk of the short haul from LIN so MXP doesn’t work as a hub etc. All the family / friends I have in the north of Italy who travel for work and pleasure basically hop on a short haul flight to London / Paris / Madrid / Zurich / any number of German airports and then on to wherever they are going.

  5. Yess! They have launched also a 4x week service to Male (Maldives) and a daily one to Delhi.

    Moreover they are trying to re-negotiate the transatlantic JV with Delta and AF in order to open new routes in the USA (Most Probably San Francisco) and have extended their seasonal service to LA to all year round.
    Another great news is that from december all passengers in Premium Economy and Business Class (rebranded as Magnifica) will have free wifi! Nonetheless they will finally renovate their JFK lounge which is quite outdated

    The managers are doing a great job, cutting costs and implementing new long haul routes.

  6. @T. I completely agree with you. That’s why Meridiana which has been recently bought from QT AIrways is shifting its Hub from Olbia to Milan Malpensa.

  7. very surprising, given Jo’burg route is terrible utilisation, but it’s then even worse utilisation as it’s leaving Rome at 9pm not 11pm and landing back there at 7:30am not 6:00am on the dot. Perhaps slot constraints but still. Bizarre. And on top of that, unless there are thousands of Italians wanting to visit Joburg, for the rest of Europe there are a *lot* of 1 stop options to Joburg so it’s a competitive place for a new route.

  8. @ T


    The Italians I know in places as far south as Bologna all hop to Lufthansa bases in Germany, or to Madrid, or to … basically any airline that isn’t Alitalia.

  9. @Richard

    Always to see the utilization a routing from both directions….so it’s not only the questionable thousands of Italians flying possibly down to JNB. But there is still quite a number of Italian expats in SA having relation to their home country.

    And as of now, no direct connection from Rome to JNB, instead have to fly north diection to CDG; LHR, AMS, etc to get returned in the south down to Africa.

    SAA currently only serving LHR, FRA and MUC, which I find is quite poor, given the substantial relation between SA and Europe.

    PS @ Lucky /all: This is my first post on OMAAT after beeing long time reader and great fan of this site. Thanks Lucky!!! Realy fun and interesting to read all the time..

    PPS @ I am german guy, sorry for having not the native language skills used on this site.

    BTW @ Lucky or all, Do you know the reason why almost all Airlines doing just night flights between Europe and SA and r/t and leaving their planes standing all they day at JNB O.R Tambo apron? Seems not economic keeping the heavies all the day at the ground, instead doing the return on the same day.

  10. @oliver fair point about the two way demand but still I would ask questions if the demand really is there.

    They leave the aircraft on the ground at Tambo for 2 reasons, firstly because it needs to mesh with connecting flights. If you are doing a 2hr turn in Jnb, it becomes difficult to avoid either one half of the trip landing at 10pm which is useless, or having to leave before the first half of evening bank flights have arrived and pax have time to change. But of the Europe to SA flights Rome to Joburg is probably the best one to try it.

    Secondly people will presumably prefer overnight flights as it means they don’t lose a day at the destination traveling.

  11. @Richard, thanks for this input regarding the grounding during the day time and good explanation with the connecting flights.

    Having same time zone on a long haul flight is very convenient as a passenger and agree also that it’s prefered by the people to use overnight flights.

    So in this case, same time zone along SA/Europe is a disadvantage for the carriers, as operating a daily to JNB is giving a bad utilization on the long haul aircrafts.
    For me it was just odd to see all the 380s 747s, 340s parking all the day at Tambo.

    Your doubt about the demand for this route is of course still valid. I agree also to the other writers here, the never solved problem of the muddle with no clear hub allocation between FCO and MXP is and was always handicap for AZ.

    For example, the tiny Air Dolimiti (now owned by LH), grabbed over years good incomes People from the North, Bologna, Verona, etc. to Munich and set them on the high revenue routings of LH all over the world. AZ had never an answer to it.

  12. @Ben

    As Lucky commented for European carriers a 12 hour stay in JNB is common. Also a chance for work to be done at a lower cost whilst the aircraft is on the ground. As for KQ it is most likely they will be out of business before AZ and no they don’t serve FCO.

    What would be interesting is to know the stats on FCO-ADD-NBO and FCO-ADD-JNB given how established ET are in Italy due to the historical links.

  13. Can anyone give me advice if it is safe to book Alitalia tickets for March 2018?
    Is it worth the risk? What if they do not operate business anymore in March? Thanks

  14. As for the comments above about why AZ doesn’t have more flights out of MXP, if one remembers, that used to be the main hub and they changed it to FCO under a major restructuring.

  15. wouldnt risk it. RIP Alitalia.

    Lucky I want more Israel updates!!!! Instagram something or an article for goodness sakes! Us mere mortals live vicariously through you, come on dude!

  16. and people wonder why certain Euro countries are going down the pan economically? crikey. Nationalism at its finest.

  17. MXP is not a hub and never will, because
    1) It is not the airport of Milan. It is in Varese, very unconvenient for anyone not based in Milan (basically, though it may be close geographically, the road distance is very long). As far as the position matters, it has the same convenience of a secondary airport used by low costs, such as Bergamo.
    2) It is too close to the other two main economic hubs of Italy (Turin in the west, and Venice in the east) to have feeder flights. This means that anyone living in those two areas will prefer to go to CDG or FRA instead of driving 2+ hours by car to the airport.
    3) MXP is not connected to the high speed train network. FCO is. If you live in the Venice area, it takes less time to go to FCO by train than to go to MXP by car.

    MXP was a disastrous investment to feed some politicians’ friends. Basically, the North-focused party wanted a token to be loyal to the majority party, and MXP was one of the tokens.
    That airport is completely useless for anyone except the people of Varese (those who live in Milan prefer to fly out of LIN). And the political party which boosted MXP had some of its leaders coming from Varese, guess what it means.

    Other points:
    1) AZ cannot add more routes to North America as long as it is still part of the Atlantic JV. Whoever signed the JV under those terms is surely an idiot, but it is currently not possible to add more routes there, which are the most profitable.

    2) The fact that the airline is looking for buyers doesn’t mean it can’t continue to grow its network to become more attractive, especially when it is done with the existing aircrafts and personnel (additional costs are very low). Since the bankrupt request, flights were added to New Delhi and Male, and now these two. They may not be the most profitable routes, but I’m sure the better slots like SIN, PVG and such are not that easy to aquire. Plus, the new destinations may be underserved by other carriers, and they attract a lot of traffic from travel agencies.

    3) Since the routes are made with the existing aircrafts, without taking new ones, I suppose their purpose is to integrate other seasonal routes.

    By the way, the picture of AZ business class is I think 4 years old, the new cabins are much nicer, you may want to try a flight again soon or later.

    Also, nobody should worry about buying tickets: the airline will be eventually bought (most likely by LH) and will continue to exist. There is *no way* that the national carrier of a G7 country just disappears into thin air. It will just be sold, with most ground staff fired, but its flights will all remain.

  18. “There is *no way* that the national carrier of a G7 country just disappears into thin air. ”

    Maybe not G7 but SwissAir and Sabena vanished into thin air.

  19. Sabena was not a strategic assets to keep a country together. Swissair didn’t simply disappear -it received loans to keep operating, as the Swiss territory required domestic air transportation, and it sold its planes and routes to Crossair, which became Swiss.
    Italy is a large country with major islands to be connected. It’s simply not going to happen that millions of people are left with no feeder flights to any major hub. J

    An airline is not a company like any other. You can let Air Berlin go, as there is Lufthansa to keep Germany together. Without Alitalia, there’d be like 10 million people without easy access to long range flights -this includes company owners, travel agencies, and so on. If the company will disappear, there’ll be another one resuming its operations starting the following day.

  20. I wonder how the Norwegian addition of direct LAX to FCO will impact Alitalia and their year round scheduling (as mentioned by another commenter)

  21. BTW, here are some latest news reported by German media ( / with regard to AZ.

    The LH CEO, Carsten Spohr is currently staying in Rome for the negotiations on a possible takeover of AZ into LH group.

    The Italian news “il” brings this in relation to the new destinations JNB and NBO and see it as an indication that LH is planning to set up FCO as an additional hub within the LH group for African destinations.

    This would following the former statements of C. Spohr, that the clue with AZ is to settle an efficient hub structure. Of course, in this case with regard to LH interests.

    Maybe AF/KL and BA/IB won’t be amused by such LH planning.

  22. I really hope Alitalia refuses to be absorbed by yet another German need to control Southern Europe. I’m surprised Germans can’t see how absurd this behavior is, given the history.

    “Wir schaffen das” – someone better put these people in their place for good.

  23. omg, William…need to bring in history here at this place, really?

    How long does it take for the German to get sinless in order that it’s okay for the world to make such deals? At least such as BA and IB didn’t thought in those categories when building up their cooperation with their given history. Just as an example of hundred thousands in the global world of 2017…

    And about “Wir schaffen das”…at least Germany took by far most of responsibility, compared to all others in Europe, when it comes to those people who will never see a First or Business Class Cabin. Don’t know whats wrong with this for you.

  24. As we’ve seen, it wasn’t about taking in poor people. It was about destabilizing Europe and it’s working. Soon people will demand security at the expense of personal liberty – understandable when kids are now getting raped in the streets by these migrants – and that was the goal all along.

    But hey, they were warned. So they did it with open eyes. Don’t be surprised when Europe starts burning. Again. As the first two times, it will be Germany’s arrogance that caused it.

  25. AlItalia was always fully booked in the old days …. South African locals have always wanted a direct flight to Rome. Predict it will be successful if it really gets off the ground.

  26. @William, don’t want to misuse this blog for such a strange discussion. For my side will just exit this with my comment, that such statements as you have done, remember me to some minor, thanks god they are minor, part of the society which are still sticking in the past.

    Back to topic @ Nick, I also see a demand for the connection SA to Rome. And esp. with the geographical position of FCO and with some network based connections up to northern Europe it could work fine.

  27. Has anyone travelled Alitalia from Johannesburg recently?
    I was interested to see Daunt’s comment that the cabin is so much better than shown – most visuals show a rather dated business class.
    I’m considering Alitalia vs Air France and because of the costs (flying in June – ugh!) would really like to choose the best experience.

    Any help out there?

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