|Founded||16 September 1946 |
(as Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A.)
12 January 2009
1 January 2015
(as Alitalia - Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A.)
10 October 2020
|Commenced operations||5 May 1947|
|Hubs||Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (Rome)|
|Parent company||Government of Italy|
|Headquarters||Fiumicino, Rome, Italy|
|Revenue||EUR2,915 million (2017)|
|Operating income||EUR-526 Million (2017)|
|Profit||EUR-496 Million (2017)|
Alitalia - Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A., operating as Alitalia (Italian pronunciation: [ali'ta:lja]), is the flag carrier and largest airline of Italy. The company has its head office in Fiumicino, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital. The airline is fully owned by the Government of Italy since 17 March 2020. The airline operates a fleet of Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Airbus A321, Airbus A330-200, and Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to over 34 scheduled domestic, European and intercontinental destinations. The airline operated from its main hub at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. The airline is a full member of SkyTeam alliance and it has codeshare agreements with 42 airlines. In 2018, the airline was the twelfth-largest airline in Europe.
Since 2017 the airline is under Extraordinary Administration due to years of not making profitability. As of October 2020, the airline has plans to reincorporate itself under a new name Alitalia - Italia Transporto Aereo. A new date when the company is set to be established is unknown but are eyeing on a relaunch somewhere in 2021.
Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. was established on 16 September 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali (Italian International Airlines). It was formed as a result of an Anglo-Italian agreement and was funded by the Italian government and British European Airways (BEA) in a 60/40 share arrangement with a capital of 900 million lire (£1,000,000). Its popular name, Alitalia, blended the Italian words ali (wings) and Italia (Italy). It started operations on 5 May 1947, in which year it carried over 10,000 passengers. The inaugural flight was with a Fiat G.12 Alcione, piloted by Virginio Reinero from Turin to Catania and Rome.
The first intercontinental flight left a year later, flying between Milan and cities in South America. The Savoia-Marchetti SM.95 four engined airliner was used on European routes up to 1949. On 31 October 1957, Alitalia merged with Linee Aeree Italiane and took on the name of Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane. Alitalia was owned by the Italian Ministry of the Treasury (49%), other shareholders, including employees (49%) and Air France-KLM (2%, now: 25%).
By 1960 Alitalia was operating jet airliners on some European routes (the Sud Caravelle) and the Douglas DC-8 on several longer distance routes. The Vickers Viscount propeller-turbine four-engined airliner was flown by Alitalia on its European network throughout the 1960s.
In 1978 Alitalia had its head office in the Palazzo Alitalia in Rome.
By the 1990s Alitalia was carrying 25 million passengers annually. In 1997 it set up a regional subsidiary Alitalia Express and in 2001 became a member of SkyTeam. In November 2003 Alitalia announced that it would cut 2,700 jobs over the next three years to prepare the airline for a merger with Air France and KLM. In April 2004 Alitalia acquired Gandalf Airlines, a bankrupt regional airline, to gain additional slots at several European airports, mainly in Milan (Linate) and Paris (Charles De Gaulle).
In 1995 Alitalia signed a partnership with KLM which aimed at a merger. The aim of the partnership was to develop Malpensa as a hub, along with Amsterdam (which lacked enough landing slots to expand further) and Rome Fiumicino.
Typically, the Pope flies on a chartered Alitalia Jet. The Pope's flight is often nicknamed "Shepherd One" by the press, while the actual callsign is "Volo Papale" (papal flight, in Italian) followed by a serial number.
In September 2007, Alitalia announced that it would nearly halve its hub at Malpensa and instead focus on Rome-Fiumicino and move all intercontinental flights there. Until this announcement, Malpensa had been Alitalia's primary hub for intercontinental flights. The transition away from Malpensa and towards Rome-Fiumicino was completed by the end of March 2008. Minor intercontentinental destinations, which previously received flights only from Malpensa, henceforth received only flights from Rome-Fiumicino, or else were discontinued.
In 2008, a group of investors formed the "Compagnia Aerea Italiana" (CAI) consortium to buy the bankrupt Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane ("old" Alitalia) and to merge these with Air One, another bankrupt Italian carrier.
On 30 October 2008, CAI offered EUR1 billion to acquire parts of the bankrupt airline, amidst pilots' and flight crew members' opposition to labour agreements. On 19 November 2008, CAI's offer was accepted by the bankruptcy administrator of Alitalia with the permission of the Italian government, at the time the majority shareholder of the bankrupt airline. Alitalia's profitable assets were transferred to CAI on 12 December 2008 after CAI paid EUR1.05 billion, consisting of EUR427 million in cash and the assumption of responsibility for EUR625 million in Alitalia debt.
A USA diplomatic cable disclosed in 2011 summarised the operation as follows: "Under the guise of a rather quaint (and distinctly un-EU) desire to maintain the Italian-ness of the company, a group of wealthy Berlusconi cronies was enticed into taking over the healthy portions of Alitalia, leaving its debts to the Italian taxpayers. The rules of bankruptcy were changed in the middle of the game to meet the government's needs. Berlusconi pulled this one off, but his involvement probably cost the Italian taxpayers a lot of money."
On 13 January 2009, the "new" Alitalia launched operations. The owners of Compagnia Aerea Italiana sold 25% of the company's shares to Air France-KLM for EUR322 million. Air France-KLM also obtained an option, subject to certain conditions, to purchase additional shares after 2013.
The "new" Alitalia has not claimed the old Alitalia's history as its own, as can be seen in official documents regarding the new "Alitalia Group". Instead, they stressed that they were a totally different company: they chose not to recognize benefits such as discounted tickets to former Alitalia-LAI workers and refused to honour passengers' claims against the old Alitalia.
The new Alitalia does not own many of its operating airplanes. (Alitalia-LAI had owned all of its airplanes.) Almost every plane that CAI had acquired from the old Alitalia was sold or decommissioned. Alitalia-CAI airplanes are leased mostly from Aircraft Purchase Fleet (it), an Irish company owned by Carlo Toto, the former owner of the bankruptAir One, which was merged in 2008 into Alitalia-LAI when the new company was founded.
In January 2010, Alitalia celebrated its first anniversary since the relaunch. It carried 22 million passengers in its first year of operations. In 2011, 25 million passengers were carried. On 1 February 2010, it was announced that Alitalia crew would go on a four-hour strike over wages. This was the first strike action for Alitalia since the relaunch. On 11 February 2010, Alitalia announced that, starting from March 2010, it would use Air One as a low-fare airline ("Smart Carrier"), with operations based at Milan Malpensa Airport, focused on short-haul leisure routes. It was predicted that the subsidiary would handle 2.4 million passengers by 2012. In 2011, 1.4 million passengers were carried by the subsidiary. Although operations were initially to be concentrated at Milan Malpensa, Air One later operated from Milan-Malpensa, Venice-Marco Polo, Pisa and Catania as of January 2013.
On 12 February 2011, information was released about a possible merger between Alitalia and Meridiana Fly, another Italian carrier. The merger did not occur. On 23 February 2011, Alitalia and ENAC announced the introduction of a safety card written in braille and characters in 3-D relief, which is the first of its kind. On 25 January 2012, Alitalia signed memoranda of understanding with two other Italian airlines, Blue Panorama and Wind Jet, and said to have started processes "aimed at achieving integration" with them. By the end of July 2012, the Italian antitrust authority allowed Alitalia to acquire Wind Jet, but in return Alitalia would have to cede slots on domestic routes. Faced with this, Alitalia cancelled the plans a few days later in August 2012.
On 3 May 2013, in a sting codenamed "Operation Clean Holds", police made 49 arrests at Rome's Fiumicino airport, with another 37 in Italian airports including Bari, Bologna, Milan Linate, Naples, Palermo and Verona. All were Alitalia employees caught on camera and most were charged with aggravated theft and damage. In late 2013, facing bankruptcy, the loss of a major fuel supplier, and a possible grounding by Italy's civil aviation authority, the airline announced a EUR500 million rescue package which included a EUR75 million investment by the Italian state-owned postal operator.
In June 2014, the Abu Dhabi-based UAE national airline Etihad Airways announced it was taking a 49% stake in Alitalia. On 30 September 2014, Alitalia's budget subsidiary Air One ceased flight operations.
On 1 January 2015, Alitalia-CAI formally passed its operations to Alitalia-SAI, a new entity owned 49% by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and 51% owned by the former Italian stakeholders of Alitalia-CAI. In May 2015, Alitalia announced it would terminate its partnership with Air France-KLM in 2017, stating that there were no longer enough advantages from the joint venture to keep it up.
In February 2016, Alitalia announced that in late March 2016 it would cancel most of its routes from Pisa, including Moscow, Prague, Berlin, Catania and Tirana. Alitalia decided to continue flying to Olbia and Rome.
On 25 April 2017, after Alitalia employees rejected job-cuts proposal aimed at reducing costs, the airline announced that it will start going through a bankruptcy process, beginning with the appointment of an administrator. The Italian government permitted Alitalia to file for bankruptcy on 2 May 2017. On 17 May 2017, after the government had ruled out nationalizing the airline, it was officially put up for sale to be auctioned off. In June, EasyJet expressed interest in purchasing the airline.Ryanair also expressed interest but dropped its bid after the chaos caused by Ryanair's flight cancellations.
In 2018, Delta Air Lines, EasyJet and Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane lodged formal expressions of interest to acquire Alitalia; talks between the parties were opened in February 2019. In March 2019, EasyJet announced that it had withdrawn from the discussions. After the official visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Rome, China Eastern Airlines expressed interest in Alitalia's rescue plan and could spend up to EUR100 million in exchange for a 10% stake. Delta Air Lines stated to Reuters that it was ready to invest in Alitalia but that a 10% stake was the right way for them to do so.
On 17 March 2020 the Italian government took full control over the airline after talks with a number of Italian and International companies failed to agree with terms of them being shareholders of the airline.
In April 2020, the Italian government announced it would take over Alitalia in May since it could not survive the COVID-19 crisis on its own. The fleet will be reduced from 113 aircraft to "more than 90". The airline is also questioning if it should remain in SkyTeam, which it has been a member of since 2001.
On 21 May 2020, Alitalia left the SkyTeam Transatlantic Joint Ventures.
On 10 October 2020, the Italian government signed a decree to allow to reorganize the airline as Alitalia - Italia Trasporto Aereo S.p.A. (ITA). On 28 October 2020, it was reported that ITA would buy several assets from Alitalia - Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A., including the brand and the flight codes of Alitalia and Alitalia CityLiner, the IATA ticketing code (055), the MilleMiglia frequent-flyer program, and airport slots at London Heathrow (68 weekly slots in summer and 65 in winter). The transaction is expected to cost EUR220 million.
On 8 January 2021, the European Commission sent a letter to the Italian Permanent Representative to the European Union to launch an "open, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional tender" to shed Alitalia assets. The letter consists of 62 requests for clarification, rejecting the idea that the old carrier could sell its belongings to the new company in a private negotiation. In the letter, it is stated that the Alitalia brand should not be retained by ITA, since it is an emblematic indicator of continuity. The European Commission suggests that the combined aviation, ground handling, and maintenance businesses should be sold separately to a third party. It also suggests that the slots must be sold, and the MilleMiglia program in its entirety cannot be transferred to the new corporate entity.
Alitalia's continued loss-making over several years has led to various changes of ownership and status. As of August 2019, the company (Alitalia - Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A.) and its subsidiary Cityliner (Alitalia Cityliner S.p.A.) are in Extraordinary Administration (EA), by virtue of decrees of the Ministry of Economic Development on 2 May and 12 May 2017 respectively, and were declared insolvent on 11 May and 26 May 2017 respectively. Luigi Gubitosi, Prof. Enrico Laghi and Prof. Stefano Paleari were appointed as Extraordinary Commissioners of the Companies in EA.
In terms of ownership, the current shareholders appear to be Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (the Italian state railway company) with 35%, the Italian Ministry of Economy maintaining a further 15% and Delta Air Lines providing technical expertise with a minority 10% stake. The now-majority stakeholder Ferrovie dello Stato is reported to be seeking investor(s) to provide a 40% stake.
Although declared bankrupt, the airline continues to trade, albeit unprofitably. The recent key trends of the airline as Alitalia - Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A., including Alitalia CityLiner, that commenced trading on 1 January 2015, are (as at year ending 31 December):
|Turnover (EUR m)||3,312||2,880||2,915||3,071|
|Net profit/loss (EBIT) (EUR m)||-199||-360||-496||-343|
|Number of employees (FTE)(at year end)||×||×||10,871||10,711|
|Number of passengers (m)||22.1||22.6||21.3||21.8|
|Passenger load factor (%)||76.2||78.7||78.7||80.0|
|Number of aircraft (group)(at year end)||141||×||121||×|
Historical business and operating results for Alitalia's performance before the 2015 reorganisation, where available, were:
ND = No Data
Alitalia's head office is located in Building Alfa at Via Alberto Nassetti in Fiumicino, Province of Rome. The corporate headquarters was designed by AMDL, a Milan-based architecture firm. The head office was previously in a building at Piazza Almerico da Schio, also in Fiumicino.
Alitalia branding is iconic with Italians as the airline adopts the colors of the Flag of Italy (Green, White, Red). The name of Alitalia is designed as an Italian portmanteau of the words ali ('wings') and Italia ('Italy').
The iconic livery designed based on its logo has the letter A painted on its tail fin of the aircraft. Since 1996 the Airline adopted the Hockey stick aircraft livery design. Since the Etihad Airways Joint Venture the airline resigned its livery with a warm ivory fuselage design with only the Alitalia A warp around the tail and the tail section of the airplane. The current branding and livery design was created by Landor.
Alitalia McDonnell Douglas DC-9 in the 1957 Livery
Alitalia Boeing 747 in the 1969 Livery
Alitalia Boeing 777 in the 2005 Livery
Alitalia Airbus A320 in the Current Livery Design
A variety of different slogans have been used by Alitalia:
In 2014, the company adopted a new slogan
Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. lost money for years owing to problems with pilots and crew members and labour difficulties, and to government and political interference with attempts to solve them. The Italian government supported Alitalia many times until the European Union set a moratorium on any support before 2011. Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. did not survive this moratorium. Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. went into liquidation in 2008. The viable parts of Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. were bought by the private company Alitalia - Compagnia Aerea Italiana on 12 December 2008, which started operations on 13 January 2009.
Alitalia has reported only one year of profit (1998) since its foundation in 1946. Alitalia reported net losses of more than EUR3.7 billion between 1999 and 2008. Previous state aid to Alitalia included some EUR1.5 billion in 1998 from the government of premier Romano Prodi. In 2002 Alitalia received a capital increase of EUR1.432 billion under the government of Silvio Berlusconi. In 2004 the Berlusconi government gave a EUR400mn 'bridge' loan to Alitalia. In 2005 the capital of Alitalia was increased by EUR1.6 billion, including an over EUR500mn bond float issued with the promise of a return to profit in 2006. (Unfortunately the year ended with a loss of EUR626 million). In 2008 the Italian government gave a bridging loan of EUR300mn to Alitalia.
The government could in 2006 no longer offer support to the failing airline since it had been forbidden by the European Union to inject new capital. Therefore, as all other attempts to save the company had failed, the Italian government announced its willingness to lead Alitalia towards privatization by lowering its part of ownership in it. Several failed attempts to take over or merge Alitalia were made.
In May 2008 the government issued a decree that would exempt Alitalia from disclosing information on this sale to the market. As a consequence the trade in Alitalia stock at the Borsa Italiana in Milan was halted indefinitely by the stock exchange authorities as of 4 June 2008. Intesa Sanpaolo, as requested by the government, devised a plan in co-operation with the Italian cabinet. The plan was that Alitalia would file for bankruptcy, and thus be protected from its creditors. The next step of the plan was to split Alitalia in two parts, one part containing the debts and less promising parts of the company. After negotiations under supervision of the Italian government Alitalia filed for bankruptcy in August 2008.
CAI, Compagnia Aerea Italiana, a consortium of Italian investors, presented a binding offer of EUR1,100 million to Alitalia's bankruptcy administrator on 30 October 2008 to acquire parts of the airline, pressing ahead despite refusal by some pilots and flight attendants' unions to sign on to the rescue plan. The Italian government and the bankruptcy administrator agreed to the CAI takeover offer on 19 November 2008. The profitable assets of Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. were transferred to CAI on 12 December 2008, when CAI paid the offered sum. CAI paid EUR1.052 billion ($1.33 billion), paying EUR427 million in cash and taking on EUR625 million in Alitalia debts. CAI is liable for all Alitalia expenses per 1 December 2008. CAI bought Air One as well.
Alitalia has been in the SkyTeam alliance since 2009; Alitalia - LAI originally joined in 2001. Alitalia has since arranged code-share agreements with SkyTeam members, allowing passengers to fly to numerous destinations (with some or all segments operated by airlines other than Alitalia) using a single Alitalia ticket. In July 2010, Alitalia also joined Air France, KLM and Delta's transatlantic Joint Venture, meaning that the profits from flights across the Atlantic are shared between the four airlines. On 21 May 2020, Alitalia left the SkyTeam Transatlantic Joint Ventures.
Between 2009 and 2011, Alitalia renewed its fleet with 34 new aircraft, while 26 older planes were retired. The renewal process ended in early 2013. These new planes are not owned by Alitalia itself but are leased mostly from Aircraft Purchase Fleet, an Irish leasing company created by former Air One owner Carlo Toto primarily to purchase the new Alitalia fleet. Following the Air One merger, the entire fleet that was not already leased from other lessors, plus the former Air One fleet that was owned by Air One outright, came under the ownership of APF, a subsidiary of Toto's Italian conglomerate Toto Holding. The majority of the fleet is now on the Irish registry instead of the Italian registry.
During its restructuring in 2020 with the Italian government ownership in Alitalia, the airline planned to reduce the 113 aircraft to "more than 90".
Since being owned by the Italian Government, Alitalia has been replanning the fleet size and types of aircraft for future operations. Alitalia is currently only in plans and no contract has been yet signed which means there might be changes due to the future of the fleet.
Alitalia plans for its mainline fleet to use the current Airbus A320-200 but possibly plans to buy the Airbus A320neo. For Long-haul Alitalia is instead planning to use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in which the variants would be the Boeing 787-8 and the Boeing 787-9. All of these aircraft overall would come out with a discount of or above the 50%-off discount. Airbus would pull the rug on Boeing to sell the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and rather offer their all-new Airbus A330neo and the all-new Airbus A350 XWB in which the variants would be the Airbus A330-900 and the Airbus A350-900. Overall Airbus to possibly convince Alitalia they would need to make discounts up to an impressive 65% to 70% off. Alitalia hasn't yet made a contract with the aircraft manufacturers but has already been in contact with them for the future.
The airline's frequent-flyer program is named "MilleMiglia" (thousand miles), and is part of the SkyTeam alliance program, allowing passengers to collect miles and redeem them with free tickets across the whole alliance.
It also grants access to Alitalia's Privilege clubs, Ulisse, Freccia Alata, and Freccia Alata Plus, depending on the number of miles collected in a year, with various advantages depending on the club. These clubs give access to SkyTeam Elite (Ulisse) and SkyTeam Elite+ (Freccia Alata, Freccia Alata plus).
On 3 February 2015, Etihad Airways acquired a 75 per cent stake in Alitalia Loyalty S.p.A., the owner and operator of MilleMiglia, with Alitalia retaining the remaining 25 per cent stake. Alitalia Loyalty was now part of Global Loyalty Company (GLC), a loyalty and lifestyle company that aimed to allow Etihad Airways and its partners to target the global loyalty market more effectively. GLC also consists of Etihad Airways' Etihad Guest. Together, Etihad Guest, topbonus, JetPrivilege and MilleMiglia had a combined total of 14 million members worldwide. However, on 18 December 2018, Alitalia and Global Loyalty Company LLC signed an agreement under which Global Loyalty Company LLC sold the 75% of Alitalia Loyalty S.p.A. to the Italian carrier.
Two Alitalia pilots, Alberto Nassetti and Pier Paolo Racchetti, were killed while acting as passengers during the 1994 A330 test flight. Alitalia actually never purchased the A330, and dedicated two Boeing 767 aircraft to the lost pilots.
On 30 June 1982, an Alitalia Boeing 747 with 340 passengers was hijacked by a Sri Lankan man, Sepala Ekanayake. He demanded $300,000, for the plane to fly to Bangkok-Don Muang International Airport and for his wife and son to be brought to Bangkok. After the hijacking Sepala Ekanayake was sent to Sri Lanka where he was arrested and sentenced to prison.
On 24 April 2011 an attempt was made to hijack Alitalia Flight 329 en route from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France to Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy and divert it to Tripoli International Airport, Libya. The hijacker, reported to be an advisor to the Kazakhstan delegation to UNESCO, was subdued by cabin crew and other passengers. He was arrested and taken into custody after the aircraft made a safe landing at Rome-Fiumicino.
In December 2005, the bankrupt Volare Group (Volareweb, Air Europe) was put up for sale. Alitalia bid to buy the group (other bidders were Air One and Meridiana/Eurofly). Air One went to court claiming that Alitalia could not buy Volare Group as it had received state aid in the past. The TAR (Regional Administrative Tribunal) of Lazio tried to block Alitalia's acquisition of Volare Group but abandoned the attempt, claiming that Alitalia had repaid its EUR400 million loan and so there would be nothing stopping it from buying Volare Group. Air One also went to court, unsuccessfully. Alitalia created Volare SpA to buy the Volare Group. The airlines were becoming closer and Volare Group had started providing soft maintenance services for some Alitalia aircraft in Milan Malpensa airport. However, the Italian Consiglio di Stato (State Council) on 23 May 2006 has once again blocked the acquisition of the airline. It is not clear what is going to happen as Volare is in serious financial difficulties. On 2 November 2006 TAR court decided that the administrative procedure used by the Italian government to sell Volare to Alitalia was invalid but the selling contract is still valid because the administrative court was declared incompetent about this topic. If Air One wants to obtain Volare it will have to go to the local civil court and ask it to declare that the selling contract is invalid. Alitalia's offer for 38 million euros was the winning bid. On 15 May 2006 the former Volare Group employees were transferred to Volare SpA (the Alitalia subsidiary).
In December 2005, Italy's antitrust agency fined Alitalia EUR30,000 for misleading consumers by advertising a round-trip flight tariff while showing only the price of a one-way ticket. The antitrust agency in a statement said the advertisement appeared on Alitalia's web site during May and June 2005.
The European Court of Justice has in July 2008 rejected an appeal by Alitalia against the European Commission in a long-running inquiry into Italian state aid. The airline challenged conditions set by the commission in 2001 for the use of state aid in restructuring the company. The court ruling does not impose any new conditions on Alitalia and the commission considers the case settled. A statement: "the Court of First Instance dismisses Alitalia's action and confirms that the commission's decision of 2001 is valid". The court: "confirms the validity of each of the conditions imposed on Alitalia by the commission". These conditions were:
Headquarter Via Alberto Nassetti SNC 00054 Fiumicino.
Piazza Almerico da Schio - Palazzina RPU 00054 Fiumicino (RM)
The seven victims included two Italian pilots working for Alitalia, Alberto Nassetti and Pier Paolo Racchetti, who were in Toulouse for a five-day commercial training programme at the headquarters of the French company.