Alitalia sets out route revamp

Italian flag carrier Alitalia has revealed its route plans following Abu Dhabi-based Etihad’s decision last summer to take a 49 per cent equity stake.
In Italy, there will be a new three-hub strategy. Milan Malpensa will see an increase long-haul services; Milan Linate will have more connections to partner airline hubs; and Rome Fiumicino will have more long-haul flights while continuing to expand short and medium haul services.
New routes from Rome include Berlin, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Mexico City, Santiago (Chile), Beijing and Seoul and flights to New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi will be stepped up.
The additional 13 weekly flights from Milan Malpensa will include daily services to Abu Dhabi, four flights a week to Shanghai and more flights to Tokyo.
There will also be daily services from Venice, Milan, Bologna and Catania to Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub, along with additional flights from Rome, all with onward connections to the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China and Australia.
Schedules will be tweaked to improve connections with existing and new partners.
At the new company’s board meeting, Alitalia chairman Luca di Montezemolo pledged “to put the customer at the centre of everything we do. And to do that, we will change many things, starting with the way we work. We need to work as one united team to achieve this great common goal.”
At the same time, Etihad Aviation Group president and chief executive officer and Alitalia vice chairman James Hogan warned: “In a market still beset by the continuing Eurozone crisis, anything other than rapid, decisive change is simply not an option…we have made a commercial investment that must deliver a commercial return.”
“We’ve invested in the new Alitalia because we believe it can flourish again. It will only succeed if there is 100 per cent support from everyone. The coming months and next few years will not be easy, but if everyone pulls together as one team, Alitalia can grow again.”
Hogan said that Alitalia’s major investors had set a clear deadline for the airline to deliver profitability by 2017.
As well as the existing relationship with members of the Skyteam alliance, and in particular Air France/KLM and Delta, there will be a major new partnership with airberlin and NIKI, along with plans to work more deeply with Air Serbia and Etihad Regional.
 Alitalia is in the process of relocating 14 Airbus A320s to airberlin, and looking into options with Etihad to acquire additional wide-body aircraft for Alitalia. Alitalia could also receive aircraft from Etihad’s existing fleet orderbook.
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