ITA set for take-off as Italy bids farewell to Alitalia

End of an era as Italians say addio to Alitalia.

Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) will take to the skies on 15 October, replacing Alitalia as Italy's new national airline.

Alitalia will cease operating on 14 October, ending a colourful history stretching back 74 years between Italy and the bankrupt airline.

ITA, the nation's new flag carrier, will initially serve 44 destinations, with this number set to rise to 74 destinations by 2025.

In addition to key airports such as London-Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Alitalia's slimmed-down successor will serve more than a dozen Italian cities.

The company has begun selling tickets for transatlantic destinations in the US, to begin operating over the coming months, including flights between Rome Fiumicino and New York JFK, Miami, Boston and Los Angeles, as well as between Milan Malpensa and New York JFK.

More long-haul flights are expected in the spring of 2022, reportedly including Buenos Aires and São Paulo.

ITA began selling tickets for European and domestic routes in August, after obtaining its operating licence from the Italian civil aviation authority ENAC.

The launch of the airline was preceded by intensive negotiations between Italy and the European Commission over how to carve out a role for the new carrier and make it independent of its loss-making predecessor.

The move to keep ITA separate from Alitalia is to ensure it would not be liable for paying back billions of euro the old carrier had received in state aid.

The new carrier will reportedly begin operations with an initial capital of €700 million which it will use to buy assets from Alitalia, with aims to break even by the third quarter of 2023.

ITA, which is fully owned by the government of Italy via its ministry of economy and finance, will start off with a fleet of 52 planes, with the number of aircraft rising to 105 by the end of 2025.

The new flag carrier will inherit only part of Alitalia's flight slots, obtaining 85 per cent of Alitalia slots at Milan's Linate airport and 43 per cent of slots at Fiumicino in Rome, according to Reuters.

Alitalia currently has a staff of 11,000.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that 2,800 people will be employed in ITA's aviation unit this year, possibly rising to 5,750 in 2025 if the company wins the tender for Alitalia’s ground handling and maintenance divisions.

All employees of ITA will be obliged to have the Green Pass certificate which shows that people have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from covid-19.ITA faces an uphill start thanks to a challenging economic situation caused by a general fall-off in air travel due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo credit: Yaya Photos / Shutterstock.com.

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