Italy's new flag carrier ITA to take off in mid-October - ministry
Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), Italy's new flag carrier, will replace the troubled national airline Alitalia and will be fully operational from Oct. 15, Italy's Ministry of Economy and Finance said, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The announcement came after the Italian authorities reached an agreement with the European Commission on the transition of Alitalia's assets to ITA without a public tender.
The ministry said the deal would enable the start of capital increase procedures and "creates the conditions for signing a memorandum of understanding on the transfer of some activities from Alitalia to ITA."
According to previous statements from the ministry, the new airline was originally expected to begin operations in June or July in order to make the most of the summer tourism season. However, the talks between Rome and the European Commission continued even after a preliminary deal was struck in May on the economic discontinuity between the new company and the old airline as required by European legislation.
Italy sought to avoid a public tender, which might have prolonged the transition from the old company to the new one or have landed ITA in the hands of non-Italian stakeholders.
"ITA will be able to answer to the new needs of air transport in an increasingly integrated framework with rail transport and will pay great attention to sustainable development," Italy's Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility Enrico Giovannini stated after the deal was announced.
He added that the new airline will concentrate on innovation and digitalization "in line with the EU principles underlying the National Recovery and Resilience Plan."
According to ITA's industrial plan 2021-2025, which was approved on Thursday, the airline will initially operate a fleet of 52 aircraft with 2,750-2,950 employees.
The fleet would grow to 78 aircraft in 2022 and to 105 aircraft by 2025, some 77 percent of which should be new generation planes.
The new company said it plans to employ up to 5,550-5,700 people by the end of the current industrial plan (2025), which would be a little more than half the 10,654 employees who worked at Alitalia in mid-2020.
Alitalia has long been in financial trouble and has been under state administration since 2017. It kept operating mainly through the injection of public money by the Italian government and suffered a final blow during the pandemic.