Alitalia has been reborn by the Rome government shifting its debts and unprofitable parts of the company onto the Italian taxpayers’ shoulders and merging it with smaller domestic rival Air One.
The leaner, more cost-efficient airline keeps the same name and livery, but its new owners have axed a third of the workers and partnered with larger rival Air France-KLM in an attempt to return it to profit. Air France-KLM’s Chairman boss, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, said: “We’re very strictly respecting the Italian nature of Alitalia in all the agreements we’ve signed. The fact that the fourth largest European airline market – the Italian market – is now in stronger cooperation with the European leader – Air France-KLM – is obviously major, in terms of European consolidation.” In its new form, Alitalia has cut the number of cities it serves from 76 to 70, of those 23 are in Italy and 47 overseas. It is targeting a domestic market share of 56 percent, up from just 30 percent previously. By selling older planes, its average fleet age will drop and the Air France KLM alliance is predicted to save 720 million euros over three years through synergies. The Italian Prime Minister’s office called it “a turnaround in Alitalia’s history” and Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi said: “All the prophets of misfortune have been silenced.” But Alitalia’s Chief Executive Rocco Sabelli – responding to workers’ protests on the first day of the ‘new’ airline’s operations – conceded: “There are problems to be resolved, and there will be plenty more to resolve.”