Italy’s New National Airline Reveals US Route Plans

Italy’s New National Airline Reveals US Route Plans

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After years of bankruptcy, the Italian government is finally replacing Alitalia with a new national airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA). It remains to be seen how different the new airline will be from Alitalia, given that ITA intends to purchase some of Alitalia’s assets, potentially including the branding and planes.

As of now the plan is for ITA to launch flights as of October 15, 2021 — Alitalia stopped selling flights for travel as of October 15, and that’s the date as of which the transition is expected to happen. ITA will be significantly smaller than Alitalia (at least initially). We’ve now learned what to expect from the carrier’s initial transatlantic route network.

ITA’s planned routes to the United States

Yesterday ITA filed with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to request a foreign air carrier permit. Since this is a separate airline from Alitalia, the airline will need to request permission to operate routes to the United States, and that’s the process the carrier is going through right now.

Most interesting in the filing is ITA’s plans for offering service to the United States, as the airline reveals how it plans to grow. According to the filing, initially (meaning as of late 2021) ITA plans to operate the following four routes to the United States:

  • Milan to New York
  • Rome to Boston
  • Rome to Miami
  • Rome to New York

Then as of 2022, ITA plans to add the following two routes to the United States:

  • Rome to Los Angeles
  • Rome to Washington Dulles

Then as of 2023, ITA plans to add the following two routes from the United States:

  • Rome to Chicago
  • Rome to San Francisco

These are all routes that were either operated by Alitalia in the past, or that Alitalia had planned on commencing pre-pandemic (for example, Alitalia was supposed to launch a Rome to San Francisco flight in the summer of 2020, though that never happened due to the pandemic).

ITA will operate a Milan to New York route

The Alitalia brand may survive

The DOT filing contains some interesting tidbits, including this one:

Prior to the start of its flight operations, planned for October 15, 2021, ITA will acquire certain assets (such as aircraft) from Alitalia – Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A. (“Alitalia”). Prior to this date ITA will also participate in a public tender to acquire the “Alitalia” brand.

As you can see, while ITA is technically the name of the company, in reality the new airline may look a lot like the old Alitalia — ITA will bid on the Alitalia brand name, and will try to acquire Alitalia aircraft. As the carrier is described in the filing, it’s “wholly-owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and was created for the purpose of creating an efficient, innovative and competitive airline, able to provide Italy with quality connectivity in synergy with the strategic sectors of tourism and international trade.”

I get that Alitalia was a mess, and that perhaps a new airline in Italy needed a fresh start if it’s going to succeed. At the same time, I’m not sure I view this as much of a fresh start, because the new Alitalia sure could look, swim, and quack much like the old Alitalia. 😉

The new company will have a cleaner balance sheet, but aside from that I’m not sure many other issues will be addressed, and for that matter the airline faces a lot of new challenges — a rough transition, having to give up slots at hub airports, and more.

ITA may ultimately be branded as Alitalia

Bottom line

Italy’s new national airline, ITA, has outlined its plans to start flying to the United States later this year. The airline hopes to operate four routes this year, and then add two more routes in each of 2022 and 2023.

The reality is that as of now we don’t know much about what to expect from the ITA experience — even though the airline is potentially weeks from launching operations, the carrier’s name, fleet, inflight service, etc., are all still being worked out.

What do you make of ITA’s United States route plans?

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  1. Robert Anderson

    I'm surprised that Italia didn't go out of business years ago. . They were always going on strike with I traveled to Italy in the 1980s and 1990s that is why would not fly them from the United States. The airline has always had been plagued with terrible customer service which I encountered a couple of times in the Rome airport in March 2003 and a flight from Rome to Berlin. I did fly Italia...

    I'm surprised that Italia didn't go out of business years ago. . They were always going on strike with I traveled to Italy in the 1980s and 1990s that is why would not fly them from the United States. The airline has always had been plagued with terrible customer service which I encountered a couple of times in the Rome airport in March 2003 and a flight from Rome to Berlin. I did fly Italia from Paris to Sicily and Sicily to Naples in January 2019 and the service had really improved. Not sure what happened although I did notice that the ground and flight crew were younger people, which maybe had something to do with it.

  2. Anita

    Are the Rome to NY round trip flights?

  3. Garrick

    I've a ton of miles accumulated on Alitalia. Who knows what's gonna happen to them? Are they transferable?

  4. Alan

    John just got to the heart of the matter. In every other Alitalia reorganization that left a clean balance sheet, the unions won and stayed on at their old very high salaries. That also allowed them to remain in the galleys for most of the flights in my experience.

    If the new Alitalia is free to hire its own workforce at competitive market compensation, then this could actually be a chance for a new Alitalia,...

    John just got to the heart of the matter. In every other Alitalia reorganization that left a clean balance sheet, the unions won and stayed on at their old very high salaries. That also allowed them to remain in the galleys for most of the flights in my experience.

    If the new Alitalia is free to hire its own workforce at competitive market compensation, then this could actually be a chance for a new Alitalia, assuming the government sells it once it is profitable. However, any continued government ownership will doom it as Parliament has never been able to keep its hands off the airline and its unions, whose support they depend on.

  5. John

    ITA's main advantage over Alitalia is the juniority (not seniority) of its workforce. It will probably start out as non-union, but even after unionisation, its expenses will be much lower than Alitalia since all employees will be paid at new-hire rates. They may fly the same airplanes, but will do so at a much lower cost. The lower cost structure should help them grow more rapidly. Also, new, and probably younger employees may also have...

    ITA's main advantage over Alitalia is the juniority (not seniority) of its workforce. It will probably start out as non-union, but even after unionisation, its expenses will be much lower than Alitalia since all employees will be paid at new-hire rates. They may fly the same airplanes, but will do so at a much lower cost. The lower cost structure should help them grow more rapidly. Also, new, and probably younger employees may also have beter attitudes and be more customer friendly, and less surly, than older more disgruntled employees. These are generalizations, of course, but airline history suggestslower cost startups are more likely to succeed. It will be management's responsibility to provide a better level of service with newer employees. I wish them well.

  6. Molly

    Any information and if when they will be flying Miami to Rome? We always flew Alitalia nonstop from Miami to Rome. Absolutely never had an issue.

  7. stogieguy7

    Yep, it's clever in a way: you make a deal to acquire many of Alitalia's aircraft at a bargain price, then you spend a few bucks to acquire the brand itself. Once you do, you don't need to change the liveries/interior design of those aircraft you just bought. This saves big $ (or Euro). And....you get a well-recognized brand name too. One that we think of as synonymous with financial irresponsibility, but one that is...

    Yep, it's clever in a way: you make a deal to acquire many of Alitalia's aircraft at a bargain price, then you spend a few bucks to acquire the brand itself. Once you do, you don't need to change the liveries/interior design of those aircraft you just bought. This saves big $ (or Euro). And....you get a well-recognized brand name too. One that we think of as synonymous with financial irresponsibility, but one that is also very established and intertwined with modern Italian culture.

    It does make sense. It would make even more sense if they actually managed it properly, unlike the airline it's supposed to replace.

  8. Veronica L.

    I am not surprised, the dissolution of unions happening around the world is disgusting. Millennials facing the new world order with no benefits, pension or outstanding health insurance. I believe, I am the last generation of professionals that enjoy the benefits of my predecessors. Only a handful of greedy cruel leaders control the future generations. God protect our children.

    1. stogieguy7

      Unions are corrupt institutions that outlived their usefulness decades ago. All they do now is breed laziness and inefficiency.

  9. E.

    Why?

    The EU is yet again banning Americans.

    There is no money in travel. Tourism and travel especially international is dead now, just as those in power have wished for so very long. They are rubbing their hands with total utter glee for border closures, travel bans and so on are the New Normal they have proudly been parroting for 18+ months.

  10. Eduardo Saghini

    I was hoping that there would be flights fom Atlanta to Rome or some other important port in Italy. I hope they reconsider!!!!

  11. VibePilot

    Sounds similar to how the US government restructered General Motors. New Corp took brand name and good assets. Old Corp stuck with bad assets and liabilities.

  12. Hank Tarn

    Make sure that they buy Boeing instead of Airbus if they want got airport slots.

    I am fed up of European companies buying state owned Airbus, then expecting us to also buy Airbus instead of Boeing.

  13. 305

    What I never understood about Alitalia was their long haul network. Basically everything was into FCO or MXP. For being a national airline, I’m surprised they didn’t connect smaller Italian cities to places like JFK.

    Pre-COVID you had United trying Napoli Capodichino, AA trying out Bologna (for Firenze), and both airlines expanding at Venezia Marco Polo. Years down the road, I'd love to see this new version of Alitalia get their hands on some A321...

    What I never understood about Alitalia was their long haul network. Basically everything was into FCO or MXP. For being a national airline, I’m surprised they didn’t connect smaller Italian cities to places like JFK.

    Pre-COVID you had United trying Napoli Capodichino, AA trying out Bologna (for Firenze), and both airlines expanding at Venezia Marco Polo. Years down the road, I'd love to see this new version of Alitalia get their hands on some A321 XLRs and 788s and try these routes. Maybe even try places like Palermo and Calabria like Nino mentioned above.

    If you’re thinking of visiting, consider supporting Southern Italy, they have very little compared to the north. The destinations are just as beautiful and half the price. You won't be disappointed!

  14. Lucille C Bello

    I have always travelled Alitalia when my sons were small. They always catered to me as if I were an VIP, always allowing me to leave the plane before anyone else because my sons were small. Service was excellent. I always considered Alitalia the best but travelling recently on Alitalia the service was not the same. If prices are reasonable I will fly with ITA.

  15. M. Jülicher

    Das wird genauso ein wirtschaftlicher Ruin werden wie die alte Gesellschaft. Die gleichen Köpfe verderben den Brei. Neuer Mist auf Altem Aufgebaut.

  16. Andy

    Frankly, I expect that the network (to the US and elsewhere) will see some adjustments once the alliance membership is decided.

    However, in the short run, the more interesting question is what happens to 055 (legacy AZ) tickets. It's uncertain if they remain valid. It's equally unknown on which ticket stock ITA will issue its tickets. I would really avoid any bookings both on legacy or reborn AZ until they figured out how to deal...

    Frankly, I expect that the network (to the US and elsewhere) will see some adjustments once the alliance membership is decided.

    However, in the short run, the more interesting question is what happens to 055 (legacy AZ) tickets. It's uncertain if they remain valid. It's equally unknown on which ticket stock ITA will issue its tickets. I would really avoid any bookings both on legacy or reborn AZ until they figured out how to deal with this. And to those who still have 055 tickets, I would advise to use them before October 14.

  17. John Dallenger

    When will the new this new airline secure flights between JFK and Naples, Italy? Even if it is seasonal, there is no airline to my knowledge that does that route anymore and for a reasonable cost.

  18. Nino

    Have a fly direct from NY to Lamezia Terme ,a fly ny to palermo and a fly NY to Napoli .
    and keep it at least 1 or 2 flys a week it will attire more and more people specially family with kids, south Italy need turism and a direct fly will incorage people travel there if it cost little more for the fly , hotels and food will offset the exspences vs if you go to florida or any other destinations in Usa.

  19. Charles

    Lipstick on a pig. The Italians should get out of the airline business.

  20. J.A.D. Needham

    The name Alitalia carries with it a lot of baggage. Yes, it is known, and that is always an advantage, but if you were to ask seasoned travelers what adjective might be associated with Alitalia, it could be a sobering moment. I suspect that adjectives such as "late" and "unreliable" might well feature. This is not a rejuvenation of Swissair after all.

  21. Icarus

    The Alitalia website will close down
    He new company website is www.itaspa.com

  22. Jonathan

    I flew Alitalia around 2007 and while the food was quite good, many other airlines in business class have similar and even better. But the most memorable thing was even though in business class, I almost dropped my wine due to a rickety armrest which almost fell over. While I enjoy things Italian, Italian management I do not and ITA must hire a more international leadership if it is going to survive in the world today.

  23. Peter Hill

    How soon can one book. I was booked on Alitalia. My flight out is ok but my flight back is no more. Can we book at return now on the new airline or not yet?

  24. shoeguy

    Alitalia flew to SFO previously, on 767-300ERs so a return to SFO in 2023 would mark the relaunch of a prior route. The new ITA will be the same Alitalia, smaller, fewer employees, 1/3 of the fleet, and a very small number of intercontinental routes as most of AZ's long haul operation apart from what is being restarted was never profitable.

    1. Bob

      I live in SF and the SFO route was not financially feasible for the airline and dropped it and that was several years ago.

  25. Apso Eyot

    Delighted to hear that the new Alitalia is planning to actually start flying to SFO. I’m not really sure the Bay Area has that significant of an Italian population that would supply enough VFR traffic to run SFO-FCO, compared to the other US cities mentioned, although I heard from some people that there was a good amount in the North Bay and wine country. At the same time, it’s kind of disappointing that we’ll have...

    Delighted to hear that the new Alitalia is planning to actually start flying to SFO. I’m not really sure the Bay Area has that significant of an Italian population that would supply enough VFR traffic to run SFO-FCO, compared to the other US cities mentioned, although I heard from some people that there was a good amount in the North Bay and wine country. At the same time, it’s kind of disappointing that we’ll have to wait until probably summer 2023 for that route to start. I kind of hope United doesn’t announce SFO-FCO soon, as it’s gotten kind of annoying how United feels the need to also fly every single intercontinental route that foreign airlines already fly out of SFO (with the exception of PR’s SFO-MNL).

    1. Sam

      North Beach is the Little Italy of SF...still quite a few Italian families in the bay area

      Same thing with many of the Napa vineyards, many families still in the Sonoma/Napa area

    2. Sir Walter Raleigh

      Sadly Big tony, paulie, and little carmine ruined it with their “thing”.

    3. RobASFO

      Alitalia use to offer a San Francisco to Milan flight before 9/11 and more recently, Norwegian flew nonstop from OAK to FCO until it's filing for bankruptcy
      .

    4. Never In Doubt

      Let’s not forget Air Italy, which flew SFO-MXP for what now seems like the blink of an eye!

  26. Enzo Denigris

    I don’t understand the Chicago Rome we going to wait until 2023 for direct flight

  27. Ric

    So looks like everything will be FCO focused with very little out of MXP. Wondering if other carriers will start using MXP ? Will it cost more to fly into/out of MXP ?

  28. Robert

    It's strange that you think using the branding would make this the same as before. I don't understand all the problems but using the brand won't tie them to existing labor contacts, will it?

  29. JB

    "I’m not sure I view this as much of a fresh start, because the new Alitalia sure could look, swim, and quack much like the old Alitalia"

    Do you think it will poop out losses like Alitalia as well?

  30. Sam Meow

    In german we have a saying "totgesagte leben länger" (those said to be dead live longer).
    I honestly can't believe that basket cases Alitalia and SAA have survived to see the light of another day. I assume that ITA will win the 'auction' to the name Alitalia and at most we'll see a new lively on the planes.
    Having less planes means that they can't compete on frequences on busy intra-european routes as...

    In german we have a saying "totgesagte leben länger" (those said to be dead live longer).
    I honestly can't believe that basket cases Alitalia and SAA have survived to see the light of another day. I assume that ITA will win the 'auction' to the name Alitalia and at most we'll see a new lively on the planes.
    Having less planes means that they can't compete on frequences on busy intra-european routes as i've seen on their website. Not planning on booking any flights with them until there's some sort of stability there. I'm sure i'm not the only one here.

    Let's see if the new start works out for them.

  31. Jeff Bella

    Have been flying the Rome-Miami Alitalia flight for many years and always enjoyed the service & food & reliability. The few times we used other carriers for that route it was a mess
    Hoping the new airline delivers.

  32. Sam

    Still waiting to see what alliance they will join, if any....

    I always enjoyed Alitalia Magnifica as a Delta Diamond/2 MM

    Best food and wine in business class

    1. Icarus

      Why though ?They won’t It’s a new airline Air France and KLM suspend their interline agreement, as will others. If they have a “ loyalty “ programme it will start from scratch.

  33. CF_Frost

    The main point of this new airline is to terminate the union contracts. There was no other way to do that.

  34. Tim Dunn

    Looks like Rome won the Rome vs. Milan battle for intercontinental air travel by Italian airlines.

  35. DC Travel Guy

    It very well could just be a way to replace staff and hire new staff with different union rules and guidelines.

    At least, that had to be a big part of it.

Featured Comments Load all 42 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jeff Bella

Have been flying the Rome-Miami Alitalia flight for many years and always enjoyed the service & food & reliability. The few times we used other carriers for that route it was a mess Hoping the new airline delivers.

Sam

Still waiting to see what alliance they will join, if any.... I always enjoyed Alitalia Magnifica as a Delta Diamond/2 MM Best food and wine in business class

Bob

I live in SF and the SFO route was not financially feasible for the airline and dropped it and that was several years ago.

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