Alitalia, Once a Carrier of the Jet Set, Nears Its Last Flight

MILAN—Alitalia, the airline that for years symbolized Italy’s postwar increase and la dolce vita, is slated to fly its final flight Thursday, after the Covid-19 pandemic delivered a closing blow to a firm propped up by the nation’s governments for years.

The 75-year-old nationwide flag provider—which in the late Sixties was Europe’s third largest, behind

British Airways


Air France

—has been in an Italian model of chapter safety since 2017. It hasn’t turned an annual revenue in 20 years, lengthy scuffling with competitors from low-cost airways and its personal high-cost, and strike-prone, workforce. Those troubles have continued virtually to the very finish: A strike this week led to the cancellation of greater than 100 flights.

Check-in desks sat empty at Fiumicino Airport outdoors Rome this week as a strike led greater than 100 flights to be canceled.


redazione telenews/Shutterstock

Formed shortly after World War II, it grew to become the unofficial provider of a newly rising jet set between the U.S. and Europe. In specific, it whisked Italian and American film stars between Hollywood and Italian film units. Alitalia’s heyday coincided with the romanticization of Rome’s “sweet life“ in films such as Federico Fellini’s 1960 “La Dolce Vita.” Illustrious fliers included Sophia Loren, who as soon as took half in promoting for the airline.

A succession of popes additionally used it as their airline of selection: Alitalia’s distinctive inexperienced and pink tail-fin colours served as a backdrop for papal airport arrivals round the world.

Pope Francis

flew Alitalia final month from Rome to Hungary after which onto Slovakia.

Alitalia by no means tailored to the large aviation business deregulation that led to consolidation amongst huge carriers and the emergence of low-cost carriers, analysts mentioned. Faster and sooner trains additionally ate into the airline’s profitable home market. Through all these headwinds, the Italian authorities served as an investor of final resort, stepping in lately with a collection of bailouts and makes an attempt to seek out new companions.

The Italian authorities has invested greater than €10 billion, or about $11.6 billion, in Alitalia since 2008, in keeping with Andrea Giuricin, an economics professor at Milan’s Bicocca University and chief government of TRA Consulting. Alitalia declined to touch upon the estimate.

A succession of popes used Alitalia as their airline of selection, together with Pope Paul VI, proven looking the cabin window on a December 1964 flight.


Pope Francis flew Alitalia final month from Rome to Hungary after which onto Slovakia, the place a crowd welcomed him upon disembarking in Bratislava on Sept. 12.


AFP by way of Getty Images

In an try to show the airline round, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, at one level a key shareholder, launched coaching in 2016 to assist flight attendants be extra cordial. The airline refurbished airport lounges with totally different blends of espresso and pizza ovens and launched new uniforms.

The Rolling Stones posed with an Alitalia jet at London’s Heathrow Airport in 1967.


Evening Standard/Hulton Archive

In 2012, Alitalia carried 25 million passengers, about 17% of the Italian market and roughly stage with

Ryanair Holdings

PLC, Europe’s greatest finances provider. By 2019, Ryanair carried virtually twice as many passengers in Italy as Alitalia.

The coronavirus pandemic—which shut down air journey for months—delivered the knockout blow. Italian Prime Minister

Mario Draghi

resisted requires the authorities to step in once more to rescue the airline.

Some of Alitalia’s property, together with 52 airplanes and most of its airport slots, in addition to about a quarter of its staff, are being absorbed by a new airline that’s set to make its first flight on Friday. Italia Trasporto Aereo is fully owned by the Italian authorities following a €720 million funding.

The Alitalia model may discover a new residence. The airline is making an attempt to public sale it off. No presents have been made at a first public sale that set an preliminary worth of €290 million. ITA has mentioned it desires the model, however received’t pay greater than about half that sum.

The final Alitalia flight—from Cagliari on the island of Sardinia to Rome—is scheduled to the touch down at 11.10 p.m. native time on Thursday. The pope hasn’t mentioned but if ITA will likely be his go-to airline.

Write to Eric Sylvers at

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Appeared in the October 14, 2021, print version as ‘Alitalia Set To Make Its Final Flight.’

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