ITA Files For US Flight Permissions With An East Coast Focus

Italia Trasporto Aereo S.p.A (ITA) has filed with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct flights between Italy and the United States. Alitalia’s replacement, the airline is looking at initially launching four long-haul routes from Milan and Rome, touching the East Coast of the United States. Over the coming years, it plans to add even more cities, including on the West Coast.

Alitalia Airbus A330-200
ITA is gearing up to take over Alitalia’s US routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

ITA files for US flight permissions

ITA has asked the DOT for permission to fly four long-haul routes when it launches operations from October 15th, 2021. The airline’s initial plans include one long-haul route from Milan to New York.

The bulk of ITA’s long-haul services will come out of Rome. Initial routes will run to Boston, New York, and Miami. Then, from 2022, ITA plans to add Washington D.C. and Los Angeles to its route map out of Rome. Finally, from 2023, Chicago and San Francisco will see the airline’s planes flying customers to Rome.

ITA’s network indicates that it plans to launch Boston, New York, and Miami alongside or relatively soon after its launch. Then, from March 2022, it plans to add Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

Alitalia A3320
ITA will be taking over four of Alitalia’s long-haul routes if the DOT approves its operations. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Mirroring Alitalia’s network

If these routes are ringing a bell, they should. Alitalia currently flies or else has flown all of the current and anticipated ITA long-haul routes to the United States, though some questions remain.

ITA has not detailed much about its fleet plans, though it has taken on an Airbus A330-200 from Alitalia. According to Alitalia, the Airbus A330-200 has a range of 11,100 kilometers (~6,900 miles), which puts all of these routes within reach of the A330.

However, Alitalia utilized a Boeing 777 on flights to Los Angeles from Rome, which Simple Flying had an opportunity to fly on. Los Angeles to Rome would certainly be pushing the A330’s range with a flight time of over 12 hours and 30 minutes going to the US.

Alitalia B777
Alitalia flew its Boeing 777s to Los Angeles, and it is unclear if ITA will take over the Boeing widebodies by 2022 to run those flights. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

ITA will also have opportunities to offer connections within Italy and into Europe if its short- and medium-haul plans pan out.

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ITA will have an uphill battle

US airlines have the most benefits from the demise of Alitalia. ITA will not have the same brand loyalty and may even suffer some, given that Alitalia’s frequent flyers may feel burned by the airline’s demise and many questions about its mileage program.

Another battle will be whether ITA has any partnerships in the US. Without a partnership, ITA will be left without a connecting network into the United States. If travel restrictions from Europe to the US are still in place, this could be a huge detriment for the airline as it will not only be barred from carrying most foreigners into the US, but it also will only be able to cater to a smaller number of US travelers in only three metropolitan areas on a single ticket. Meanwhile, its US counterparts will have access to their own large connecting networks.

ITA Files For US Flight Permissions With An East Coast Focus
Alitalia benefited from connections and codeshares with Delta, but ITA won’t have that benefit. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

It is unclear what ITA will choose to do on the side of passenger experience. Alitalia’s hard and soft products left room for improvement, especially in the era of United’s Polaris, Delta’s new Delta One Suites and Delta One seats, and British Airways’ Club Suites (on connecting itineraries).

Ultimately, ITA is looking to take over some of what Alitalia did, but it is unclear how far it plans to keep up Alitalia’s model. Alitalia was not very successful at the end of the day, and ITA will have an uphill battle that should allow US airlines to swoop in and try and undermine the competition early on in the game.

Are you looking forward to flying ITA to and from the US when it launches? Let us know in the comments!