Alitalia operates its last flight, after 75 years and billions in losses

The iconic former Italian flag carrier Alitalia will operate its last flight this Thursday evening, after a few glorious years and billions of euros in losses over the past 20. The next day, this Friday, The new Italian airline will take off, ITA (Italian air transport). The struggling company will make its last trip from Rome to Cagliari, a sad day for many Italians who are proud of the company, even though it has always been in the red, and above all bitter for the thousands of employees of the national operator left on the street.

Alitalia, in the group of emblematic European public airlines born in the post-war period, was created on September 16, 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali by the Italian government and the resources of the country and then British European Airways (BEA ) with attendances of 60 – 40. It began operations about eight months later, on May 5, 1947, with an inaugural flight from Turin to Catania and Rome, and in 1948 it first flew to South America. On October 31, 1957, it merged with Lines Aeree Italiane and the Alitalia brand was born – Linee Aeree Italiane, a combination of the Italian words alas and Italia (“ali” and “Italia”).

In 1960, it was already carrying a million passengers. It was then the first European airline to fully enter the era of the jet. Their uniforms, like their livery, sported the colors of the Italian flag, designed by Gianni Armani. It was the third largest airline in Europe, after British Airways and Air France.

Over the past 20 years, the airline has never managed to be profitable. The Italian government, whoever was on duty, always saved her. Financial support that was cut in 2006 by mandate from the European Union, leaving the company in great difficulty.

Towards the end of 2008, it was privatized when a group of around twenty Italian businessmen, together with the Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, founded the Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI) with the aim of buying the brand and part of the assets of the bankruptcy of Alitalia and to unite with Air One. , its main competitor in Italy. In January 2009, Alitalia-CAI started its operations. 25% were sold to the Air France KLM group which then withdrew.

The Italian airline continues to lose heavily while making efforts to cut costs, but between competition from low-cost airlines and Italian trains, and repeated calls for a strike from its various groups, it is once again facing to impending bankruptcy.

Mid-2014, Alitalia experiences a break and a revival, with the entry into its shareholding of Etihad Airways which, with an injection of 500 million euros and the request to cut 3,000 jobs, takes over 49% of the company airline which created its image, its uniforms and a worldwide campaign (“Volare…).

Without the support of the workforce, the differences between Italian and Emirati owners and an unrealistic strategic plan, Alitalia was reverting to serious problems which ultimately led its board of directors, in May 2017, to decide on the unanimously, after recognizing “the serious economic and financial situation of the company, the unavailability of shareholders to refinance”, proceed to the “amministrazione straordinaria” (extraordinary administration) in accordance with Italian law, in which it is remained so far (Alitalia risks liquidation for the second time in less than a decade).

All the while, the airline has continued to receive bailouts from the Italian government in the form of emergency loans, in violation of EU rules which, in fact, a few days ago declared illegal one aid, of 900 million euros.

The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions in Italy, the European country through which the virus entered, have given the finishing touch to the struggling airline which stopped selling tickets on August 25 to make way for the new ITA (Italy Trasporto Aereo), this Friday October. 15.

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Wholly owned by the Italian government, ITA starts operations this Friday to 44 destinations with a fleet of 52 aircraft that will go to 74 destinations and 105 aircraft by the end of 2025.

The new standard bearer inherits only 43% of the slits from Rome-Fiumicino airport and 85% of the slits of its predecessor at Milan Linate airport in Milan. For the moment, it absorbs only 2,800 employees out of Alitalia’s 11,000. The increase in this figure in the future will depend on its success in the call for tenders for the activity of handling and maintenance of Alitalia.

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