ITA Airways: 52 aircraft, over 60 routes by next summer, heavy focus on domestic flights this winter
Italy’s ‘new’, government-owned airline, ITA Airways (IATA code AZ, same as its predecessor Alitalia), officially launched operations on Friday 15 October. The airline plans to operate with 52 Airbus aircraft this winter (seven A330-200s, 27 A320s and 18 A319s). The airline’s future fleet plans appear to be 100% focussed on Airbus aircraft, including the A220-series.
All routes either from Rome FCO or Milan LIN
ITA’s schedule data as provided to Cirium Data and Analytics shows, that for the week commencing 18 October 2021, ITA is planning to operate 34 routes from Rome FCO and a further 16 from Milan LIN. Since there is a route between Rome FCO and Milan LIN that makes a total of 49 routes at present. The destinations served are all the ones they promised to serve back in September with the exceptions of some long-haul routes (Boston, Tokyo HND and Miami). It looks like the start date for these may have slipped into next year.
In September, the airlines revealed that other destinations would be added during 2022. These were:
- March 2022: Buenos Aires, Florence, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Sao Paulo, Stuttgart and Washington
- June 2022: Malaga
- July 2022: Marseille, Valencia
- August 2022: Belgrade, Sofia
Curiously, Cirium data shows ITA offering a daily non-stop service to Toronto YYZ from Rome FCO (flight AZ 80 using an A321 and with a block time of over 12 hours!). However, the airline’s website clearly shows this not to be the case, with service to the Canadian airport only being offered from 4 November via New York, with Delta offering the New York to Toronto sector but from New York LGA rather than New York JFK where Alitalia’s flight lands.
Measured by ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres) which is an industry measure of capacity that takes into account sector length, weekly frequency and aircraft size, seven of ITA’s top 10 routes in November are domestic (shown in purple). London LHR, Madrid and New York JFK are the only international routes to feature in the top 10. This highlights the key role that domestic services will play for the airline as it tries to win the hearts and minds of a potentially sceptical public.
Overall, just under 60% of the airline’s ASKs will be on routes from Rome FCO in November and just over 40% from its Milan LIN routes. Next year, when more long-haul routes start to operate from Rome, this gap will widen and Rome will again become the dominant airport for ASKs. However, until then it highlights how important the airline’s Linate routes will be to the airline over the coming winter season.
What’s been dropped?
While airlines love to tell you what they are doing, they very rarely tell you about things they have stopped doing. The pandemic had already seen Alitalia reduce its Rome FCO network from almost 90 non-stop destinations in August 2019 to just 57 in August 2021. Similarly, its Milan LIN network was cut from 37 routes in summer 2019 to 23 this summer.
A comparison of schedule data for November 2021 with August 2021 shows ITA no longer serving the three airports of Sardinia (Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia) as well as nine Greek holiday destinations, four Spanish holiday destinations and two Croatian holiday destinations. The situation from Linate is similar, with no services to Sardinia, as well as no winter flights to Comiso, Lampedusa and Pantelleria in Italy; Ibiza, Menorca and Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and Rhodes in Greece. Whether these holiday routes return in 2022 has yet to be confirmed.
Only serving eight European capitals this winter
There are several major European cities that you might think an Italian flag-carrier should serve. Looking at Alitalia’s network from Rome, the following are not currently set to be part of ITA’s future; Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Helsinki, Istanbul, Kiev, Lisbon, Ljubljana, Moscow, Oslo, Prague, Riga, Skopje, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw and Zagreb. In fact, this winter, ITA Airways will be serving just eight capital cities in Europe (apart from Rome). They are Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, London, Madrid, Malta, Paris and Tirana.
Sardinian routes taken up by Volotea at short notice
As mentioned previously, ITA’s network from Rome and Milan does not (currently) include any destinations in Sardinia. To ensure continuity of service the authorities invited a number of airlines to offer their services. Volotea it seems won the contract for seven months (until 14 May 2022) and as of last Friday now offers multiple-daily flights between three airports in Sardinia and Rome/Milan.
- Alghero-Milan LIN: 14-weekly
- Alghero-Rome FCO: 21-weekly
- Cagliari-Milan LIN: 28-weekly
- Cagliari-Rome FCO: 35-weekly
- Olbia-Milan LIN: 14-weekly
- Olbia-Rome FCO: 21-weekly
This is the first time that Volotea has served Rome FCO.