Delta Air Lines and Italy’s ITA have filed for authorization with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement a codeshare partnership. The airlines highlighted a prior partnership between Delta and Alitalia as a precedent for codesharing. ITA and Delta are laying the groundwork for an expanded partnership, as ITA considers its options for strategic partners.
Delta and ITA file for codeshares
The codeshare filing with the DOT sees both airlines marketing the codeshare as a move to “reintroduce to the traveling public a broad range of high-quality flight options on routes between the United States and Italy and beyond to third countries.” The two airlines have requested a blanket authorization to display codes on each carrier’s respective route networks.
This is going to include Delta’s flights throughout the United States and ITA’s throughout Europe. The two airlines also fly long-haul flights between the US and Italy, though Delta has a larger presence in this market than ITA currently. However, the two airlines highlighted interest in adding codeshare routes to destinations outside of Europe and the United States.
ITA wants to add its code on Delta’s flights to three destinations in Mexico. These are Cancun (CUN), Mexico City (MEX), and Monterrey (MTY). Delta, meanwhile, wants to put its code on ITA’s flights to Cairo, Egypt (CAI), and Tunis, Tunisia (TUN). ITA does not serve any destinations in Mexico, while Delta does not fly to Egypt or Tunisia.
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Italy is still a key market for Delta
Delta Air Lines has traditionally maintained a strong network to Italy. Next summer, Delta will operate twice-daily flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Milan and Rome. Nonstop seasonal service to Rome from Boston will also return next summer, as will nonstop flights to Milan from Atlanta. Delta’s seasonal flights to Venice from Atlanta and New York are also coming back.
Delta’s partner hubs in Amsterdam and Paris are traditionally strong connecting markets for the carrier. Italy is much more of a final destination for Delta’s passengers, though having onward connecting opportunities will help boost some of the airline’s seat capacity in a competitive market. Delta does not serve Egypt or Tunisia, mainly relying on Air France to get its customers to those destinations.
ITA keeps its options open
ITA replaced Alitalia in the SkyTeam alliance. However, it is still looking at options for a close “Strategic Partner.” With this filing, Delta appears to be a strong possibility for transatlantic flights, which could potentially lead to a joint venture in the future if ITA gets on a solid financial footing.
ITA is still looking for other commercial partners. Lufthansa has long shown interest in Italy and has been highlighted as a potential option for a partnership, or perhaps an acquisition, under the Lufthansa Group brand. That would likely raise issues over Delta’s codeshare plans with ITA, but ITA has yet to publicly disclose how it envisions its partnerships play out. The first step is putting codeshares in place and getting on the right financial footing.