ITA Prepares To Replace Alitalia As The Pope’s Airline

ITA Airways is preparing to take over from Alitalia as the official airline of the Pope. Pope Francis will fly with ITA during a visit to Cyprus on December 2nd. The Vatican head is set to travel onboard an Airbus A320 from Rome to Larnaca for the five-day visit.

ITA Airbus A320 Getty
The Pope has found a new official airline in ITA Airways. Photo: Getty Images

ITA ready to take on official Pope duties

Since former Italian flag carrier Alitalia ceased operations this year, the Holy See has been without an official airline. Alitalia had performed these duties for a total of 57 years since the papacy of Pope St. Paul VI.

Now Italy’s new flag carrier, ITA Airways, is set to take over as the official airline of the Pope. On December 2nd, ITA will fly Pope Francis to Cyprus for his first international flight since March 2021.

ITA Prepares To Replace Alitalia As The Pope’s Airline
The Pope’s former airline was the now-defunct carrier, Alitalia. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons

ITA CEO Fabio Maria Lazzerini said,

“It is an honor and great pride for us to accompany the Holy Father on his trip to Cyprus. We are a company that puts sustainability at the center of its strategy and this is one more reason to be happy to transport the Holy Father, who constantly recalls these values ​​in his words.”

The Pope will travel onboard an Airbus A320-200 with his retinue and several members of the press. The ITA crew will consist of nine staff, including three pilots and six cabin crew. According to data from, ITA has a total of 27 Airbus A320s in its fleet of 52 all-Airbus aircraft.

The flight will take off from Rome Fiumicino Airport at 11:00 local time on its way to Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus.

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A good start for ITA

Taking over from Alitalia as Italy’s flag carrier, ITA Airways has overseen a promising start to operations. The airline commenced operations in October on the same day Alitalia conducted its final flight.

CEO Lazzerini added,

“We started our flight operations just over a month ago and every day we work to be an efficient and innovative carrier and to represent our country, all over the world.”

The Pope will fly on one of ITA’s Airbus A320-200s. Photo: Laurent ERRERA via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, ITA completed its first long-haul flight with a nine-hour trip from Rome to New York.

Modern fleet plans

ITA has plenty to be excited about in terms of its future fleet. The airline’s current fleet consists of 52 Airbus jets – the A319 (18), A320 (27) and A330 (7) – with an average age approaching 15 years. However, the carrier has ambitious plans to modernize its fleet. This includes an MoU with Airbus for 28 new planes – 10 A330neos, seven A220s, and 11 A320neos.

Alitalia A330
ITA has inherited several of its planes from Alitalia. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Currently, 34 out of ITA’s 52 planes are on lease, with the carrier owning 12 A319s and six A320s outright. The airline is set to lease even more aircraft after signing an agreement with lessor ALC for 31 new Airbus jets. This deal will include 15 A220s, two A320neos, nine A321neos, and five A330-900s.

Have you flown with ITA yet? Do you think the airline will prove to be more profitable than its predecessor, Alitalia? Feel free to share your insights in the comments.