While Alitalia has had to decrease its overall capacity in recent weeks, the airline is adding new special flights to cope with stranded travelers. According to an Alitalia press release issued yesterday, this is being done in collaboration with the Crisis Unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding more scheduled services to repatriate thousands of Italian citizens stranded abroad.
Bringing home Italian citizens
“In line with the mission of ensuring an essential public service, from today Alitalia has increased the number of scheduled flights from London Heathrow to five daily, in order to meet the needs of those who wish to return home from the United Kingdom.” -Alitalia
Alitalia also announced that it would have increased services from Brussels – twice daily up from once daily. This will also assist in repatriating Italians in nearby Amsterdam after the city’s Schiphol airport suspended operations. Furthermore, flights from Paris will also be increased to twice daily. These flights can be booked through the airline’s website: alitalia.com.
For service between London Heathrow (LHR) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO), World Airline News reports that the carrier has upgraded some of its metal from the narrowbody Airbus A320 it normally uses on the route, to the widebody A330. This will be the case for many LHR-FCO flights during this upcoming week as shown by FlightRadar24.com.
Special flights coordinated with the government
Alitalia also announced special repatriation flights out of the following countries and destinations in coordination with the Crisis Unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
- Spain (Madrid and Malaga) between 21 and 26 March
- Moldova (Chişinău) on 22 March
- Greece (Athens) on 23 March
- Poland (Warsaw) on 23 March
- Ukraine (Kiev) on 25 March
- Serbia (Belgrade) on 26 March.
These special flights are being organized due to the fact that normally scheduled flights are no longer possible, due to the restrictions imposed on air traffic to and from Italy. To date, Alitalia has repatriated over three thousand Italian citizens.
Alitalia under government control
Having been in poor financial standing in recent years, Alitalia has been looking for a buyer. However, none was found before this crisis hit. As a result, the Italian government plans to take control of the airline to save it from collapse.
Reuters indicates that the reports are coming from Italian newspaper Il Messaggero – which released the story last Sunday. Reports suggest plans are already at an “advanced stage”, that will see the government take control of both Alitalia’s aviation and land operations. This would be done through “a public vehicle” and implemented “in a short time”. One Mile At A Time reports that Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance will form a new state-owned business to run Alitalia.
Part of this rescue includes €600 million of additional funding for Alitalia.