ITA Airways Makes Management Changes To Advance Sale Talks
Italian government representatives on the board of ITA Airways have voted to remove executive powers from Alfredo Altavilla, the airline’s executive president, and transfer them to CEO Fabio Lazzerini in order for him to negotiate the next steps in the carrier’s sale process, Italian media reported.
Neither ITA nor Italy’s Ministry of Economics and Finance responded to a request for comment.
Italy is aiming to privatize ITA, the economically separate successor to Alitalia, and selected a consortium led by private equity firm Certares in August. But the sale process has been dogged by delays and complications, the latest of which has been political upheaval in Italy.
Alitalia declared bankruptcy in 2017, setting off a lengthy period of uncertainty while Italy’s government tried to find an investor. The flag carrier was eventually nationalized at the beginning of the pandemic.
The relaunch as ITA gave the government a springboard from which to restart the search for an investor for Italy’s national carrier. The consortium made up of Certares, Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines was eventually chosen in August, but the privatization plans have run into more delays.
A deadline for the exclusive talks was most recently pushed back by a month to Oct. 31.
While former Prime Minister Mario Draghi had been trying to push forward the sale, Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had said during her campaign that she was in favor of it remaining in public hands.
Meanwhile, ITA has pushed ahead with its fleet-expansion plan, adding its first two Airbus A220-300s. The airline’s first commercial flight using the new single-aisle aircraft was on Oct. 16, from Rome Fiumicino to Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo airport. The airline is due to receive two more of the type in the coming weeks as part of broader plans for a fleet made up of 80% new-generation aircraft by 2026.
“The introduction of the Airbus A220 will enable the company to offer a modern, environment-friendly fleet featuring cutting-edge technology with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions by 1,300 tons over the 2022-2026 plan time frame,” ITA says.
The A220 will serve short-haul routes from Rome Fiumicino and Milano Linate to destinations in Italy and Europe, including Genoa, Naples and Turin, as well as Geneva, Munich and Zurich.
The addition of the A220s takes ITA’s Airbus fleet to 67 aircraft. Before the airline’s launch a year ago, ITA set out growth plans foreseeing its launch with a fleet of 52 aircraft and growth to a 105-strong fleet by the end of 2025 through the gradual addition of new-generation aircraft.
ITA began flying commercial operations with its widebody A350s in June and celebrated its first anniversary Oct. 15. The carrier has flown 9 million passengers in its first year, ITA says. Over the winter season the airline plans to focus on long-haul expansion, with a new A350 route from Rome Fiumicino to Tokyo Haneda launching Nov. 5 as well as an A330 service from Rome Fiumicino to New Delhi beginning Dec. 3. The carrier will also operate a Rome-Maldives flight from December to March using either an A330 or an A350.