Alitalia SAI, the new company half owned by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, is one month old. The new Alitalia commenced operations on January 1st and it will soon be pretty much different from the old Italian flagship carrier.
Not only it changed name but it will also develop a new brand and its staff will wear new uniforms so to give it a new visual identity. Reinvention in progress!
Using the words of James Hogan (Etihad’s boss and Alitalia’s vice chairman) at the official presentation of the new strategic plan a few days ago in Rome, it will be a “sexier” airline, actually the sexiest in Europe.
Domestic flights to/from Rome will fall by a quarter as a result of the competition from high-speed trains (especially to Milan) and the new direct, fast railway connection to the Fiumicino airport from several Italian cities.
International flights to/from the Eternal City will rise instead, with the largest increase devoted to Asia and America.
Brand new direct flights for our city will be operated by Alitalia SAI from San Francisco, Mexico City and Santiago de Chile.
Alitalia will start flying from Rome to Beijing and Seoul in Asia while in Europe it has recently added the fashionable Berlin and Dusseldorf destinations. These cities were already served by other airlines. We guess Cuba should follow next especially now that this country is opening up to the US and the West.
These cities will see an increase in flight for/from Rome: New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and, of course, Abu Dhabi our new twin city!
Alitalia will retain its long dated cooperation agreements with Skyteam members Air France/KLM and Delta, and will definitely deepen the relationships with Etihad’s European partners: Etihad Regional, Air Berlin, Niki (Austria) and Air Serbia.
Even Alitalia’s fleet will change: it will give Air Berlin (part of Etihad’s network) short-haul aircrafts that it will no longer use for the Rome-Milan route and will get in exchange from Etihad some new long-haul airplanes for its new intercontinental destinations.
According to the new business plan the carrier should be profitable again in 2017 and at that point it might start hiring after cutting about 2,000 workers in 2014, a painful but necessary condition to close the Etihad deal.
This year, however, the focus will be on Milan for the World Expo (May 1 – October 31) dedicated to food. More on this and its connection with Rome in future posts.