Alitalia To Temporarily Suspend Milan Malpensa Operations

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Alitalia is suspending all operations at Milan Malpensa while limiting Milan Linate to domestic services, as the Italian coronavirus outbreak continues. The announcement was made on Sunday by the Italian flag carrier. The northern Lombardy region of Italy is experiencing a high number of coronavirus cases.

Milan Malpensa is Alitalia’s second-largest base of operations. Photo: Getty Images

“Following the today Decree of the Italian President of the Council of Ministers, which includes new measures for the containment of Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Alitalia informs that it has implemented a plan to reorganize flights to and from Milan (Linate and Malpensa) and Venice airports. The plan comes on the heels of the reductions already undertaken by the Airline in recent days as a consequence of the drop of passengers due to the increased number of restrictions and travelers’ lower propensity to circulation.” – Alitalia press release

Alitalia operations from Malpensa

The airline says action will take effect starting today, 9 March, and run for nearly a month – through to 3 April. In fact, according to Flight Global, the last Alitalia flight into Milan Malpensa (MXP) before the suspension comes into effect is flight AZ605 from New York. This flight will land at 10:40 in the morning.

Alitalia normally offers services to New York JFK, Tokyo Narita and Rome from its hub at Malpensa, in addition to a long list of European destinations. Malpensa Airport is located roughly 45km northwest of the city of Milan.

Malpensa
Malpensa is a key airport for Alitalia. Photo: Mailander00 via Wikimedia Commons

Reduced Alitalia operations at Linate

Located a mere 9km east of Milan’s city center is the smaller airport of Milan Linate. From here, Alitalia operates services that are more geared towards Italian and European business travelers.

Alitalia will continue reduced domestic operations from Linate during the same period of flight suspensions from Malpensa. This means that service reductions here are scheduled to be in effect through to 3 April.

With Air Italy’s collapse, Alitalia is the only major Italian airline still flying. Photo: pkozmin via Pixabay

Why is this happening?

The flight suspensions and service reductions out of Malpensa and Linate respectively are due to the significant drop in travel demand as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The outbreak is hitting the hardest in the Lombardy region of Italy, where the major northern city of Milan is located.

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The most recent government action was to impose a sweeping lockdown on the region. This will restrict movements in the region which include a ban on entering or exiting certain areas of the country as well as the closure of the following facilities:

  • Museums
  • Gyms
  • Schools
  • Universities
  • Ski resorts

“We are facing a national emergency . . . without underestimating it, we have chosen transparency, we are acting with lucidity, courage and determination…We want to contain the spread of the contagion and avoid overloading the hospitals.” -Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy

Conclusion

Alitalia isn’t shut down completely. In fact, it will continue to operate flights between Venice and Rome albeit at a reduced schedule. It will also continue to operate international services from Rome Fiumicino. The airline is also offering affected travelers waivers on changes if they wish to rebook their travel, as described on alitalia.com.

Alitalia has already been financially struggling as it looks for a large investor or buyer to turn the company around. Without a doubt, this outbreak will worsen the airline’s situation.

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Do you think this will bring down the airline? Or will government assistance come to the rescue? Let us know in the comments.

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