12 March 1999 (as Trattamenti Termici Solbiate s.r.l.) 29 July 2004 (as Resco Uno s.r.l.) 26 August 2008 (as C.A.I. Compagnia Aerea Italiana s.r.l.) 12 January 2009 (as Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana S.p.A.)[note 1] 1 January 2015 (as Alitalia – Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A.)
Alitalia has been loss-making for many years. On 2 May 2017, the airline went into administration after the government formally approved the move, but the loss-making operations have continued since then, at about the same level of activity. On 17 March 2020, the Government of Italy took full control of Alitalia.
On 30 October 2008, CAI offered €1 billion to acquire parts of the bankrupt airline, amidst pilots' and flight crew members' opposition to labour agreements. On 19 November 2008, CAI's offer was accepted by the bankruptcy administrator of Alitalia with the permission of the Italian government, at the time the majority shareholder of the bankrupt airline. Alitalia's profitable assets were transferred to CAI on 12 December 2008 after CAI paid €1.05 billion, consisting of €427 million in cash and the assumption of responsibility for €625 million in Alitalia debt.
A USA diplomatic cable disclosed in 2011 summarised the operation as follows: "Under the guise of a rather quaint (and distinctly un-EU) desire to maintain the Italian-ness of the company, a group of wealthy Berlusconi cronies was enticed into taking over the healthy portions of Alitalia, leaving its debts to the Italian taxpayers. The rules of bankruptcy were changed in the middle of the game to meet the government's needs. Berlusconi pulled this one off, but his involvement probably cost the Italian taxpayers a lot of money."
On 13 January 2009, the "new" Alitalia launched operations. The owners of Compagnia Aerea Italiana sold 25% of the company's shares to Air France-KLM for €322 million. Air France-KLM also obtained an option, subject to certain conditions, to purchase additional shares after 2013.
The "new" Alitalia has not claimed the old Alitalia's history as its own, as can be seen in official documents regarding the new "Alitalia Group". Instead, they stressed that they were a totally different company: they chose not to recognize benefits such as discounted tickets to former Alitalia-LAI workers and refused to honour passengers' claims against the old Alitalia.
The new Alitalia does not own many of its operating airplanes. (Alitalia-LAI had owned all of its airplanes.) Almost every plane that CAI had acquired from the old Alitalia was sold or decommissioned. Alitalia-CAI airplanes are leased mostly from Aircraft Purchase Fleet (it), an Irish company owned by Carlo Toto, the former owner of the bankruptAir One, which was merged in 2008 into Alitalia-CAI when the new company was founded.
History under new ownership
Alitalia adopted a new logo in 2009. It was designed by Saatchi & Saatchi. This version has been updated again in 2016.
In January 2010, Alitalia celebrated its first anniversary since the relaunch. It carried 22 million passengers in its first year of operations. In 2011, 25 million passengers were carried. On 1 February 2010, it was announced that Alitalia crew would go on a four-hour strike over wages. This was the first strike action for Alitalia since the relaunch. On 11 February 2010, Alitalia announced that, starting from March 2010, it would use Air One as a low-fare airline ("Smart Carrier"), with operations based at Milan Malpensa Airport, focused on short-haul leisure routes. It was predicted that the subsidiary would handle 2.4 million passengers by 2012. In 2011, 1.4 million passengers were carried by the subsidiary. Although operations were initially to be concentrated at Milan Malpensa, Air One later operated from Milan-Malpensa, Venice-Marco Polo, Pisa and Catania as of January 2013.
On 12 February 2011, information was released about a possible merger between Alitalia and Meridiana Fly, another Italian carrier. The merger did not occur. On 23 February 2011, Alitalia and ENAC announced the introduction of a safety card written in braille and characters in 3-D relief, which is the first of its kind. On 25 January 2012, Alitalia signed memoranda of understanding with two other Italian airlines, Blue Panorama and Wind Jet, and said to have started processes "aimed at achieving integration" with them. By the end of July 2012, the Italian antitrust authority allowed Alitalia to acquire Wind Jet, but in return Alitalia would have to cede slots on domestic routes. Faced with this, Alitalia cancelled the plans a few days later in August 2012.
On 3 May 2013, in a sting codenamed "Operation Clean Holds", police made 49 arrests at Rome's Fiumicino airport, with another 37 in Italian airports including Bari, Bologna, Milan Linate, Naples, Palermo and Verona. All were Alitalia employees caught on camera and most were charged with aggravated theft and damage. In late 2013, facing bankruptcy, the loss of a major fuel supplier, and a possible grounding by Italy's civil aviation authority, the airline announced a €500 million rescue package which included a €75 million investment by the Italian state-owned postal operator.
In June 2014, the Abu Dhabi-based UAE national airline Etihad Airways announced it was taking a 49% stake in Alitalia. On 30 September 2014, Alitalia's budget subsidiary Air One ceased flight operations.
On 1 January 2015, Alitalia-CAI formally passed its operations to Alitalia-SAI, a new entity owned 49% by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and 51% owned by the former Italian stakeholders of Alitalia-CAI. In May 2015, Alitalia announced it would terminate its partnership with Air France-KLM in 2017, stating that there were no longer enough advantages from the joint venture to keep it up.
On 25 April 2017, after Alitalia employees rejected job-cuts proposal aimed at reducing costs, the airline announced that it will start going through a bankruptcy process, beginning with the appointment of an administrator. The Italian government permitted Alitalia to file for bankruptcy on 2 May 2017. On 17 May 2017, after the government had ruled out nationalizing the airline, it was officially put up for sale to be auctioned off. In June, EasyJet expressed interest in purchasing the airline.Ryanair also expressed interest but dropped its bid after the chaos caused by Ryanair's flight cancellations.
In 2018, Delta Air Lines, EasyJet and Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane lodged formal expressions of interest to acquire Alitalia; talks between the parties were opened in February 2019. In March 2019, EasyJet announced that it had withdrawn from the discussions. After the official visit of Chinese PresidentXi Jinping to Rome, China Eastern Airlines expressed interest in Alitalia's rescue plan and could spend up to €100 million in exchange for a 10% stake. Delta Air Lines states to Reuters that it is ready to invest in Alitalia but 10% stake is the right way for them to do so.
Company status and structure
Alitalia's continued loss-making over several years has led to various changes of ownership and status. As of August 2019, the company (Alitalia – Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A.) and its subsidiary Cityliner (Alitalia Cityliner S.p.A.) are in Extraordinary Administration (EA), by virtue of decrees of the Ministry of Economic Development on 2 May and 12 May 2017 respectively, and were declared insolvent on 11 May and 26 May 2017 respectively. Luigi Gubitosi, Prof. Enrico Laghi and Prof. Stefano Paleari were appointed as Extraordinary Commissioners of the Companies in EA.
In terms of ownership, the current shareholders appear to be Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (the Italian state railway company) with 35%, the Italian Ministry of Economy maintaining a further 15% and Delta Air Lines providing technical expertise with a minority 10% stake. The now-majority stakeholder Ferrovie dello Stato is reported to be seeking investor(s) to provide a 40% stake.
Although declared bankrupt, the airline continues to trade, albeit unprofitably.
The recent key trends of the new group (Alitalia – Società Aerea Italiana S.p.A.), including Alitalia CityLiner, that commenced trading on 1 January 2015, are (as at year ending 31 December):
Alitalia's head office is located in Building Alfa at Via Alberto Nassetti in Fiumicino, Province of Rome. The corporate headquarters was designed by AMDL, a Milan-based architecture firm. The head office was previously in a building at Piazza Almerico da Schio, also in Fiumicino.
A variety of different slogans have been used by Alitalia:
"Alitalia vola con te" (Alitalia flies with you)
Alitalia has been in the SkyTeamalliance since 2009; Alitalia-LAI originally joined in 2001. Alitalia has since arranged code-share agreements with SkyTeam members, allowing passengers to fly to numerous destinations (with some or all segments operated by airlines other than Alitalia) using a single Alitalia ticket. In July 2010, Alitalia also joined Air France, KLM and Delta's transatlanticJoint Venture, meaning that the profits from flights across the Atlantic are shared between the four airlines.
Between 2009 and 2011, Alitalia renewed its fleet with 34 new aircraft, while 26 older planes were retired. The renewal process ended in early 2013. These new planes are not owned by Alitalia itself but are leased mostly from Aircraft Purchase Fleet, an Irish leasing company created by former Air One owner Carlo Toto primarily to purchase the new Alitalia fleet. Following the Air One merger, the entire fleet that was not already leased from other lessors, plus the former Air One fleet that was owned by Air One outright, came under the ownership of APF, a subsidiary of Toto's Italian conglomerate Toto Holding. The entire fleet, except the two new A330s, is now on the Irish registry instead of the Italian registry. On March 23, 2019, union sources announced that the government said Alitala's fleet would be reduced to 25-30 aircraft during re-nationalization.
Alitalia during the 1960s started leading European airlines into the Jet Age and it became the first airline in Europe to adopt an all jet aircraft fleet in 1969.
The Boeing 767-300ER was introduced to the Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane fleet in 1994, and retired after 17 years of service in 2012. The last 767 flight was AZ845 from Accra via Lagos to Rome on 25 October 2012.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was introduced to the Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane fleet in 1983, and then retired in 2012 after 29 years of service. The last flight with this aircraft type operated on 27 October 2012 using the plane with registration I-DATI on flight AZ1740 (Catania-Milan-Linate). The same aircraft on 17 December 2012 operated a memorial flight from Rome-Fiumicino Airport to Trieste Airport with journalists and ex-Alitalia's CEO Andrea Ragnetti on board. During landing, I-DATI was supported by Frecce Tricolori; they did a show for the occasion.
An Alitalia A320-200 (registration: EI-DSW) in Jeep Renegade special livery.
In mid-2009, a Boeing 767-300ER (EI-DBP) was painted in the SkyTeam livery.
On 19 July 2010, an Airbus A320-200 (EI-DSA), which had previously been in the Air One livery, was painted in a special "Alitalia.com" livery. This plane is now wearing Alitalia-SAI livery.
In March 2012, an Embraer E-190-100LR (EI-RND) was delivered in the SkyTeam livery.
In March 2012, a Boeing 777-200ER (EI-DDH) was painted in the SkyTeam livery.
In April 2012, an Airbus A321-100 (EI-IXI) was painted in the historic livery of Freccia Alata-Linee Aeree Italiane, Alitalia's predecessor. This plane is now scrapped.
In November 2013, an Airbus A330-200 (EI-DIR), which had previously been in the Air One livery, was painted in the SkyTeam livery.
In March 2014, an Airbus A330-200 (EI-EJG) and an Airbus A320-200 (EI-DSM) were painted in a special livery dedicated to Calabria. EI-EJG is now wearing Alitalia-SAI livery and EI-DSM is sold to Congo Airways.
In April 2014, an Airbus A319-100 (EI-IMI) was painted in a special livery dedicated to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. From August 2015 this plane is wearing Alitalia-SAI livery.
In October 2014, an Airbus A330-200 (EI-EJM) was painted in a special livery, in cooperation with its partner Etihad Airways, dedicated to Expo 2015. This plane is now wearing Alitalia-SAI livery.
In December 2014, an Airbus A320-200 (EI-DSW) was painted in a Jeep Renegade Livery.
Alitalia has four classes of service: Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class Medium Haul and Magnifica.
The airline's frequent-flyer program is named "MilleMiglia" (thousand miles), and is part of the SkyTeam alliance program, allowing passengers to collect miles and redeem them with free tickets across the whole alliance.
It also grants access to Alitalia's Privilege clubs, Ulisse, Freccia Alata, and Freccia Alata Plus, depending on the number of miles collected in a year, with various advantages depending on the club. These clubs give access to SkyTeam Elite (Ulisse) and SkyTeam Elite+ (Freccia Alata, Freccia Alata plus).
On 3 February 2015, Etihad Airways acquired a 75 per cent stake in Alitalia Loyalty S.p.A, the owner and operator of MilleMiglia, with Alitalia retaining the remaining 25 per cent stake. Alitalia Loyalty was now part of Global Loyalty Company (GLC), a loyalty and lifestyle company that aimed to allow Etihad Airways and its partners to target the global loyalty market more effectively. GLC also consists of Etihad Airways' Etihad Guest. Together, Etihad Guest, topbonus, JetPrivilege and MilleMiglia had a combined total of 14 million members worldwide.
However on 18 December 2018, Alitalia and Global Loyalty Company LLC signed an agreement under which Global Loyalty Company LLC sold the 75% of Alitalia Loyalty S.p.A. to the Italian carrier.
Accidents and incidents
Listed here are incidents since Alitalia-CAI's launch of operations on 13 January 2009:
An Alitalia A320-200, registered as EI-EIB, which was involved in the 29 September 2013 incident
^Today's Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI) is distinct from Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane (LAI), which was founded in 1946. In 2009, CAI acquired the callsign, branding rights, and other assets that once belonged to LAI.
^ abGOVERNO: FALLIMENTO DI ALITALIA! SALVATI DALLA BANCAROTTA SOLO AIR ONE E MALPENSA (Pirozzi e Biasco). | IlpuntoDue "La Nuova Compagnia, servirà a salvare la Air One di Toto, che accumula passivi ogni giorno, insieme al salvataggio dell’aeroporto di Malpensa, che correva il rischio di perdere 62 attracchi al giorno e il declassamento ad aeroporto di secondo livello." translated: "The New Company (Alitalia-CAI) will save Toto's Air One, which has its debts increased every day, together with Malpensa Airport, which could have lost 62 slots per day and it could have been declassed to second-level airport."