Etihad and Alitalia to reinvent Italian airline

Etihad and Alitalia have outlined the strategy for the Italian company, promising an unequivocal commitment by the new executive team and strategic investors to reinvent the airline.

Alitalia is keeping the name, but changes are sweeping.
Alitalia is keeping the name, but changes are sweeping.

Alitalia will introduce new routes, new product and service standards, a new cost management strategy and new branding.

Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Alitalia, Silvano Cassano, CEO of Alitalia and James Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Etihad Aviation Group and Vice Chairman of Alitalia laid out the new strategy in a board meeting.

Di Montezemolo said the “energies, passion and expertise I have experienced at Alitalia in recent weeks do not leave any doubt that the airline we’re unveiling today will become once again a premium Italian airline recognised worldwide”.

“Our priority is to put the customer at the centre of everything we do. And to do that, we will change many things, starting with the way we work. We need to work as one united team to achieve this great common goal,” he added.

Hogan said Alitalia’s future will rely on major change throughout the organisation, especially in a “market still beset by the continuing Eurozone crisis”.

“Anything other than rapid, decisive change is simply not an option,” he continued.

““This is the right strategy, with the right management team to lead it.

“But there should be no doubts at all: we have made a commercial investment that must deliver a commercial return. We’ve invested in the new Alitalia because we believe it can flourish again. It will only succeed if there is 100 per cent support from everyone. The coming months and next few years will not be easy, but if everyone pulls together as one team, Alitalia can grow again.”

Alitalia’s major investors had set a clear deadline for the airline to deliver profitability by 2017.

Part of the new strategy includes a three-hub strategy in Italy. Milan Malpensa will increase long-haul services, while Milan Linate will increase connectivity with partner airline hubs. Rome Fiumicino will grow long-haul flying and continue to expand short and medium haul flying to maintain relevance to the Italian market.

New routes from Rome include Berlin, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Mexico City, Santiago (Chile), Beijing and Seoul, with increased flights to New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi.

The carrier will also add 13 weekly flights from Milan Malpensa, with daily services to Abu Dhabi, four flights a week to Shanghai, and additional flights to Tokyo.

There will also be increased connectivity with Etihad Airways’ hub in Abu Dhabi, with daily services from Venice, Milan, Bologna and Catania, as well as additional flights from Rome.

A major new partnership with airberlin & NIKI is also taking place and there are plans to work more deeply with Air Serbia and Etihad Regional.

A new Customer Excellence Training Academy is also expected to deliver skills to all customer-facing staff.

As part of the initial sweeping changes, Alitalia will launch a new brand and visual identity, covering aircraft, uniforms and all other customer touch-points.

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