Alitalia is planning to launch a series of new routes to Asia as part of its restructuring plan including Rome-Beijing, Rome-Seoul, Milan-Shanghai and additional Milan-Tokyo flights.
The carrier also plans increased connectivity with Etihad Airways through Abu Dhabi, following the Middle East carrier’s acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in the beleaguered carrier. The revived Alitalia – which started operations with its new shareholder from 1 January – will also launch daily services to Abu Dhabi from Venice, Milan, Bologna and Catania, as well as additional flights from Rome, all of which will allow onward connections to destinations in the Asia Pacific region.
The route expansion will be based on Alitalia developing a “three-hub strategy” in Italy, with increased long-haul services from Milan Malpensa, more connections with partner airlines at Milan Linate and an increase in short-, medium- and long-haul traffic at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.
As well as the new Asian flights, Alitalia plans to add new routes from Rome to San Francisco, Mexico City and Santiago, plus additional flights to New York, Chicago and Rio de Janeiro.
The turnaround plan which also includes closer links between Alitalia and Air Berlin, the German carrier in which Etihad owns a stake, new branding, customer service initiatives, new aircraft and codeshare partnerships, is intended to return Alitalia to profit by 2017.
“In a market still beset by the continuing Eurozone crisis, anything other than rapid, decisive change is simply not an option. This is the right strategy, with the right management team to lead it,” said James Hogan’s Etihad’s president & CEO.
“But there should be no doubts at all; 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,” he added.