Alitalia plans 40-route international expansion from Rome Fiumicino, Milan and Venice

Alitalia’s new CEO since April, Gabriele Del Torchio, has a solid career in industry, most recently as the boss of top-end bike maker, Ducati.

Alitalia’s new CEO since April, Gabriele Del Torchio, has a solid career in industry, most recently as the boss of Ducati, the high-end motorbike maker which he joined in 2007, just as the financial shock took hold. Defying gravity, he soon doubled market share, proclaiming: “This is testimony to Ducati’s capacity to react, even during a contraction in the market, we owe this to the creation of specific strategies within our plan to be specialists and segment leaders.” Obviously it's now hoped he'll bring the same magic to Alitalia (fittingly Ducati’s best-selling bike is called The Monster).

Alitalia, under its newest CEO Gabriele Del Torchio, recently announced a new Industrial Plan 2013-2016, which aims to bring clarity to the airline’s future network development. One of the key points was to clarify the role of Air One in relation to Alitalia. According to the latest plan, Air One (which will be rebranded to have a greater likeness to Alitalia) will be a web-oriented Smart Carrier, dedicated to serving point-to-point short- and medium-haul connections from four bases; Catania, Palermo, Pisa and Venice.

Alitalia will strengthen its operations at its main Rome Fiumicino hub and increase its presence at Milan Linate again (once the Alitalia hub) and Milan Malpensa airports (where it now has competition). Rather than Air One, Alitalia will operate all national and international connections at these three airports, with the aim of increasing international and intercontinental services at all of them. In addition, this winter season will see the start of a major “Re-Hubbing” project at Rome Fiumicino Airport, with the aim of improving timings for business passengers wanting to make day return trips, but also to improve connections for passengers from other Italian airports, who wish to take long-haul flights, for example, to the Americas.

All new routes international

Alitalia has been surprisingly candid in revealing which new routes it envisages launching in the next three years, providing a list of almost 40 potential new services across four airports, all of which are to international destinations.

Plan New routes envisaged
New flights from Milan Linate Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Malta, Prague, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vienna, Warsaw
New flights from Milan Malpensa Cairo, Moscow, Tirana, Tunis
Possible new destinations from Rome Fiumicino Ankara, Basel, Bordeaux, Damascus, Erbil, Lviv, Marrakech, Marseille, Minsk, Misurata, Nuremberg, Pristina, Rostov, Sarajevo, Skopje, Zagreb
New inter-continental destinations Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi, Osaka and Shanghai.
Rome to Johannesburg, Nairobi, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile and Seoul.
Venice to Tokyo.
Source: Alitalia Industrial Plan 2013-2016

11 new routes in 2013 already

Even before this latest announcement, it had been clear that Alitalia’s network development was focussed on reducing domestic capacity, and adding new international destinations. According to Assaeroporti data for the first five months of 2013, domestic traffic at Italian airports is down 10.3% to 21 million passengers, while international traffic is up 0.2% to 31.1 million. Since the start of the winter season, Alitalia has launched 14 new international routes from Rome Fiumicino, all of which are still operating this summer.

Launch date Destination Country WF (Aircraft) Competition (WF)*
29 October 2012 Zurich (ZRH) Switzerland 12 (E175) SWISS (28)
1 December 2012 Abu Dhabi (AUH) UAE 4 (A330)
11 December 2012 Yerevan (EVN) Armenia 2 (A320)
29 January 2013 Prague (PRG) Czech Republic 2 (A32S) Czech Airlines (9)
SmartWings (6)
Wizz Air (3)
25 March 2013 Krakow (KRK) Poland 3 (A32S)
26 March 2013 Ekaterinburg (SVX) Russia 3 (A32S) Ural Airlines (1)
26 March 2013 Oran (ORN) Algeria 3 (E175)
27 March 2013 Copenhagen (CPH) Denmark 2 (A32S) Norwegian (13)
SAS (12)
easyJet (7)
27 March 2013 Bilbao (BIO) Spain 2 (A320)
28 March 2013 Montpellier (MPL) France 2 (E175)
1 April 2013 London City (LCY) United Kingdom 6 (E190)
1 June 2013 Podgorica (TGD) Montenegro 3 (E190) Montenegro Airlines (3)
16 June 2013 Antalya (AYT) Turkey 1 (A319)
29 June 2013 Djerba (DJE) Tunisia 2 (A321)
Source: New Route Database, *Innovata / Diio Mi for 15 – 21 July

Of the 14 new routes, only five face direct competition, although Copenhagen and Prague routes have  intense competition, and Alitalia only offers a twice-weekly flights on these services.

Domestic routes suffer from frequent changes

Several of the Alitalia Group’s domestic routes appear to suffer from a kind of identity crisis, with the marketing airline and operating airline frequently changing. The following domestic routes which were marketed by Air One last summer, and operated with at least daily flights, are now no longer sold under the Air One brand.

Route Marketing
Airline (WF)
Operating Airline Ended Competition (frequency)
Milan Linate – Cagliari Air One (21) Alitalia 27 Oct 12 Alitalia (daily)
Meridiana (3-5 per day)
Milan Linate – Alghero Air One (21) Alitalia 12 Dec 12 Meridiana / Air Italy (from Dec12)
Milan Malpensa – Naples Air One (14) Air One 31 May 13 easyJet (2-5 per day)
Milan Malpensa – Palermo Air One (14) Air One 30 Sep 12 easyJet (3 per day)
Bologna – Alghero Air One (7) Alitalia Cityliner 27 Oct 12 Meridiana / Air Italy (from Dec 12)
Turin – Alghero Air One (7) Alitalia 27 Oct 12 Meridiana / Air Italy (from Dec 12)
Milan Malpensa – Brindisi Air One (7) Air One 27 Oct 12 easyJet (daily)
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi

The following domestic routes which were served at least daily by Alitalia last summer, are no longer served by Alitalia (AZ), though four of them (all involving Venice) have been transferred to Air One (AP) for at least the summer season.

Route Marketing
Airline (WF)
Operating Airline Period of operation Competition
Rome FCO – Ancona Alitalia (21) Carpatair
Alitalia CityLiner
until 27 Jan
from 28 Jan to 31 May
from 18 Feb to 29 Mar
Venice – Naples Alitalia (21) Alitalia Cityliner until 8 Jan easyJet
Air One from 24 Mar 13
Bologna – Palermo Alitalia (14) Alitalia
Alitalia Cityliner
until 28 Sep 12
until 30 Sep 12
Venice – Bari Alitalia (14) Alitalia
Alitalia Cityliner
until 4 Nov 12
until 8 Jan 13
Air One from 24 Mar 13
Rome FCO – Crotone Alitalia (14) Alitalia Cityliner until 6 Dec 12
Venice – Catania Alitalia (14) Alitalia
Alitalia Cityliner
until 4 Nov 12
until 3 Nov 12
Air One from 6 Dec 12
Volotea from 19 Dec 12
Bologna – Naples Alitalia (10) Alitalia Cityliner until 27 Oct 12
Bologna – Lamezia Terme Alitalia (7) Alitalia
Alitalia Cityliner
until 30 Sep 12
from 1 Oct to 27 Oct 12
Milan Linate – Crotone Alitalia (7) Alitalia Cityliner until 6 Dec 12
Venice – Olbia Alitalia (7) Alitalia Cityliner until 30 Sep 12 Air One from 31 May 13
Source: Innovata / Diio Mi

In four of these markets, there are now no carriers linking the two airports, while Ryanair is now the sole service provider on two of the Bologna routes. There are also other domestic routes which Alitalia is not serving this summer, but which were being operated with less than daily flights last summer.

Average sector length increasing

Analysis of Innovata/Diio Mi data for July suggests that the combined Alitalia and Air One have cut weekly seats by around 11%, but that the number of weekly ASKs offered is down less than 6%, indicating an increase in average sector length, all consistent with the airline’s strategic focus on cutting domestic capacity and increasing international capacity.


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