This morning in Rome, struggling Italian carrier, Alitalia, announced major changes to the airline. The changes include changes to the fleet, a new branding, and many new routes. The changes were announced with Alitalia partner, Etihad Airways, of the United Arab Emirates. Etihad purchased a 49% stake in Alitalia last year.
Alitalia is looking to expand partnerships with Air France and KLM. A large partnership between Alitalia and Air Berlin/Niki will also be added. Alitalia also plans to work more with Etihad and Air Serbia. All of these changes are intended to make Alitalia a better airline. Chairman of Alitalia, Luca Di Montezemolo, said, “The energies, passion, and expertise I have experienced at Alitalia in recent weeks do not leave any doubt that the airline we’re unveiling today will become once again a premium Italian airline recognized worldwide.” The optimistic Di Montezemolo gave the presentation along with Etihad CEO, James Hogan. Hogan said that the investors in the airline had set a deadline of profitability by 2017. Alitalia CEO, Silvano Cassano, said, “A successful Alitalia means jobs, it means trade, and it means tourism” meaning Alitalia’s makeover will have an impact on all of Italy. The main goals of the new Alitalia are to create an airline that is focused on the customer, sustainably profitable, and set-up for long term growth.
Alitalia also announced they will have a major route network expansion. The Italian carrier plans to launch six new long-haul routes from their hub at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. This year, Alitalia plans to launch service to Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai from Rome. Beijing and Shanghai will be served three times per week, while Seoul will be served four times per week. In 2016, service to Santiago Chile and Mexico City will commence from Rome. Both cities will be served three times per week. Alitalia will begin service to San Francisco from Rome in 2018 three times per week. In addition, Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Copenhagen, New York, and Rio De Janeiro will all see service increases later this year. New routes to Santiago, Mexico City, and Beijing will all see service increases in 2017.
Milan Malpensa will also see an expansion in long-haul services. Abu Dhabi is now served daily with an A330. Later this year, service to Shanghai will commence four time per week. Service to Tokyo will see an increase in service by adding 2 more weekly flights from Milan.
To increase their partnership with Etihad, Alitalia is adding more service to Abu Dhabi. This will allow for a one stop trips from Italy to many Asian cities and Australian cities via Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s hub. Venice, Milan, and Rome will all see wide-body service to Abu Dhabi. Catania and Bologna will both see service to Abu Dhabi as well.
Fleet changes to Alitalia include the selling of 14 Airbus A320’s to Etihad partner, Air Berlin. Alitalia also has three more Airbus A330-200s scheduled to be delivered later this year. Etihad Airways can now transfer aircraft in their order book to Alitalia. These aircraft would likely be Boeing 787s. Wifi will be installed on every aircraft in the fleet.
A new branding will be unveiled for Alitalia at a later date. The name will stick around, but with a much different look. The new branding will “seek to capture and embody the essence of Italy.” The new look will include a new livery for aircraft, new uniforms for employees, and new signage.
In an effort to increase reputability, Alitalia will also give their product an overhaul. An entirely new “customer excellence academy” will be constructed seeking to improve the experience of the passengers, and the new training will be giving customers traditional Italian hospitality. New and improved on-board food options will be offered. New lounges will also be constructed in Rome and at both Milan airports, Linate and Malpensa.
Despite its struggling past, Alitalia is seeking a bright future with customers in mind.