Alitalia’s “withdrawal” creates opportunities for Air One, easyJet and Lufthansa at Malpensa

Image: Alitalia cuts capacity Milan Malpensa
Alitalia has cut its available seat capacity at Malpensa by 74% and reduced the number of destinations served from 76 to 38, making easyJet the largest airline after arriving only two years ago. Others filling the gap include Lufthansa partner Air Dolomiti, Air One, which has also taken on long haul routes, while India’s Jet Airways may resume Alitalia’s abandoned Delhi and Mumbai services.

While the fate of Alitalia continues to be debated by politicians, regulators and businessman at least one thing can be said with certainty. Alitalia has definitely abandoned its dual-hub strategy (something that only Lufthansa has really made work within Europe) and significantly reduced its presence at Milan Malpensa (MXP) to focus on Rome Fiumicino (FCO).

Between the end of the winter season and the start of the summer season Alitalia cut its available seat capacity at MXP by 74% and reduced the number of destinations served from 76 to 38, as a result of which it is no longer the airport’s largest airline.

Chart: Top 10 airlines at MXP (summer 2008)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 February 08 and 7 April 08

easyJet now offers more scheduled seats at Malpensa than any other airline and currently serves 20 destinations across Europe, including six domestic routes to Bari, Cagliari, Catania, Naples, Olbia and Palermo.

Image: Air One arrives at MalpensaAir One, which previously did not operate at MXP, now offers seven daily flights (four to Rome, two to Naples and one to Palermo) while prospective Alitalia partners Air France (+20%) and KLM (+25%) both grew their capacity significantly.

Logo: Air DolomitiOverall total scheduled weekly seat capacity at Malpensa has fallen by 25% though if we exclude Alitalia’s dramatic reduction the capacity provided by all other carriers combined has grown 14%.

This week Lufthansa announced plans to station six new Embraer 195s at the airport from the beginning of next year which would almost double the number of weekly flights from 157 to over 300. Local subsidiary Air Dolomiti would operate the flights on Lufthansa’s behalf. At present Lufthansa only serves five German destinations.

Loss of long-haul upsets local businesses

A geographic analysis of which routes Alitalia has abandoned reveals that cuts have been made right across the global network.

Region Destination (weekly flights in W07)
Domestic Ancona (14), Bologna (21), Genoa (14), Lamezia Terme (7)
Other Europe Athens* (21), Barcelona* (21), Berlin TXL* (21), Budapest** (20), Copenhagen** (5), Frankfurt** (21), Lisbon* (7), London LHR* (21), Lyon** (21), Madrid* (21), Malta** (7), Minsk (3), Nice (21), Thessaloniki (7), Valencia** (7), Warsaw** (14), Zagreb (14), Zurich** (21)
Middle East & Africa Beirut** (7), Damascus (4), Dakar (7), Dubai** (6), Lagos (5), Tehran** (5)
Long-haul Boston (5), Buenos Aires (4), Caracas (5), Chicago (5), Delhi (6), Miami (7), Mumbai (5), New York Newark (4), Osaka (5), Toronto (6)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 18 February 08 and 7 April 08
* Destinations served by easyJet (though not necessarily to same airport)
** Destinations served by other airlines

Of the remaining 38 routes only New York JFK has not had its frequency reduced. Somewhat ironically the route has just become much tougher for Alitalia as American Airlines has started five times weekly service this week.

Several European destinations have become much less attractive to business passengers as, for example, Amsterdam and Brussels have had their frequency cut back from three times daily to just daily. A total of 24 international markets are still served including long-haul destinations such as Brazil (Sao Paulo), Japan (Tokyo) and USA (New York).

However, on most of the long-haul routes Alitalia was the only operator meaning that passengers will now have to fly via Rome with Alitalia or via another hub such as Dubai or Frankfurt. Both routes to India (Delhi and Mumbai) have been dropped leading to speculation that Jet Airways may make MXP a second European hub following the success of its Brussels operation.

The majority of the European routes that Alitalia has dropped from MXP are still served by other carriers such as Air France, Air Malta, British Airways, easyJet, Lufthansa, Malev, SAS, Volareweb and Vueling. easyJet will be launching new routes this summer from MXP to Brussels, Palma de Mallorca and Mykonos as well as re-starting seasonal routes to Ibiza. So far the only route easyJet has ever tried and then dropped from MXP is to its second German base in Dortmund.

In the long-haul market Air One has announced plans to serve both Boston (codeshare with US Airways) and Chicago O’Hare (codeshare with United) from June using A330s. Routes will operate five and six times weekly respectively.


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