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New Italian Airline (almost) ready to fly


ITA, the Italian government-owned airline that will start flying Friday as a replacement for bankrupt Alitalia, is open for business, but not quite ready to stand on its own.

For the moment, its tickets are being sold by Alitalia as a subcontractor while the new airline ramps up staff and ties into major ticket distribution systems. It's also not clear what name it will fly under, although it appears that its bid to buy the Alitalia name and trademarks will not be completed in time for the first flights. And the planes it will fly, mostly leased from Alitalia and the lessors who supplied Alitalia, may need some hasty paintwork. Fortunately, it's adopted the same colors as Alitalia, so it might be only necessary to remove the name.

That said, it appears that the transition, which is the end of a years-long process of failed attempts to keep Alitalia afloat (odd though for an airline?), will actually take off. Tickets are on sale sale for flights to and from sixteen cities in Italy and 22 international flights, all to European or British destinations except for one route to New York and another to Tokyo. The airline has already laid out additional long-haul flights that will be added over the next year.

Ticket prices for the new airline have been compared on a number of sites, with CNN reporting that they are the same to a bit lower than others on the long-haul routes, but often a bit higher than competitors such as EasyJet and Ryanair on shorter routes. Ryanair is the largest domestic carrier within Italy.

While ITA may eventually acquire the Alitalia name and marks, it will have to start over on other issues, including a loyalty program; the EU approval of government aid to the new airline and release of Alitalia's debts banned that transfer, and it is unclear whether the new airline will try to join SkyTeam, to which Alitalia belonged or one of the other alliances.

The new airline's plans include not only a gradual route expansion, but replacement of nearly all its aircraft by 2025, with deliveries of new Airbus jets set to start next year, with a goal of 105 next-generation Airbus planes by then. It is starting with 52 planes that are a mix of Airbus and Boeing.

Image from ITA: The livery it hopes not to use for too long, displayed on an A340 that will not be in its fleet, which will be all twin-engine airliners

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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