Now bankrupt, the airline is collapsing after seven decades in business. On Friday, ITA will take over with lower ambitions.
At 23:10 tonight, Alitalia flight AZ 1586 from Cagliari (Sardinia) will touch down for the last time on the tarmac at Fiumicino Airport in Rome. And onboard: the last passengers of a legendary airline which, for nearly 75 years, will have crisscrossed the Italian skies.
Alitalia started on 5 May 1947 under the name Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali, with a first Turin-Rome-Catania flight. The first intercontinental flight took place a year later, from Milan to Latin America. Now, driven into bankruptcy by historic deficits, the company must definitely shut down.
But when the curtain falls, not everyone is teary-eyed. Many Italians are indeed relieved to see definitively condemned this bottomless pit that, for years, has engulfed the country’s money. Almost 13 billion euros in less than 50 years were disbursed by the state and the company has been in the red since 2002. In 2017, Alitalia declared bankruptcy and was kept afloat by the Italian state, which injected 900 million euros of state aid considered illegal by the European Commission.
But the Italian sky will not remain silent for long. At dawn on Friday morning, Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), the new public airline will take up the torch, although with limited ambitions. Funded today to the tune of 700 million euros by Rome, the latest Italian airline has so far been able to keep only 2,800 of the 11,000 employees, 52 of the 150 aircraft and a small part of the takeoff and landing slots of Alitalia. ITA will serve only 44 destinations as of Friday but hopes to grow to 74 by 2025.
The Alitalia brand is also for sale, but no buyer has yet come forward. At the last minute, ITA signed an agreement to keep the Alitalia, ahead of its imminent launch date and the end of the current Alitalia.
ITA officially purchase the Alitalia brand and the website for €90 million. It is now ITA trading as Alitalia. And no need to repaint the planes.