Alitalia Eyes Further Network Expansion In June

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Italian flag-carrier Alitalia is resuming direct services from Rome to New York, Madrid, and Barcelona on June 2nd. The airline is also adding non-stop domestic routes from Milan to the south of Italy. This will mean an increase in flights by 36% compared to May.

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Alitalia will operate 36% more flights in June compared to May. Photo: Alitalia

As the world is slowly peeking back out, somewhat bleary-eyed, and hesitant, after months of lockdown and travel bans, airlines are adding routes back to their schedules from next month. Italian national airline Alitalia, whose country was so devastatingly hit by coronavirus, and the first European country to where airlines stopped flying, as a result, is no exception.

Last and first long-haul on the schedule

The airline canceled its last standing long-haul route between Rome’s Fiumicino (FCO) and New York’s JFK on May 5th after carrying an average of 36 passengers on the service in April. Now, it is the first to be reinstated as the country begins to ease its way back to the “new normal.”

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In a press release issued on Wednesday, the airline announced the return of its FCO to JFK service from June 2nd. On the same date, Alitalia is recommencing two more international flights to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.

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The airline intends to be back at 40% pre-COVID flights in the third quarter. Photo: Alitalia

More domestic routes from Milan

Alitalia will also add direct flights from Milan’s Malpensa (which it is operating out of until the reopening of Linate) to the south of Italy. In addition to its eight daily services to FCO, it will operate four daily flights to Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia, and two a day to Bari, Catania, and Palermo (the two latter subject to any extension of the travel ban to Sicily).

These additions mean that Alitalia will be operating 36% more flights in June than it did in May, flying on 30 routes to 25 airports – 15 in Italy and ten abroad. This can be compared to the 26 domestic and 88 international destinations the carrier was serving just six months ago.

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However, for the third quarter of 2020, Alitalia is planning to gradually up capacity to 40% of what was expected pre-COVID. Thus far, all passenger flights operate at half capacity, in order to comply with government regulations for social distancing on aircraft.

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As the government intends to inject €3 billion into the carrier, it is still facing downsizing post-crisis. Photo: Alitalia

Post-COVID relaunch downsize

Things were not exactly rosy for Alitalia prior to the crisis. The airline filed for bankruptcy three years ago. After fruitless attempts to find an investor, the Italian Government decided to nationalize Alitalia at the height of the coronavirus outbreak, a process that will be completed next month. It now intends to inject €3 billion ($3.24 billion) into the struggling carrier, which has furloughed over 6,000 workers until October.

Even so, the Alitalia that will emerge post-COVID could be relaunched with as little as 25 to 30 aircraft in its fleet. What’s more, the renewal of the carrier’s membership with SkyTeam is up for discussion.

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For now, Alitalia lives on. But, as for most of us, life after COVID is bound to look a lot different.

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