Italy’s national airline is about to make its last flight. Alitalia announced this week that the airline will cease operations on October 15.
The demise of Alitalia is not surprising since the company has been in bankruptcy since 2017. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic brought most of the airline’s travel to a standstill, further hampering its ability to recover.
In a brief post on its website, Alitalia announced it would no longer sell tickets for any flights departing October 15 or later. It said any customers who have already booked flights past the date would be getting an email on how to manage their reservations.
Customers will have the option to rebook their flights to an earlier date or get a full refund.
“The communication campaign responds to the company’s desire to manage the situation in a clear and transparent way, safeguarding customers,” the statement says.
Euronews reported that more than 250,000 customers have flights booked on Alitalia after operations are set to close.
As Alitalia goes away, Italy will launch a new national airline on the same date. State-owned Italia Transporto Aereo (ITA) has started selling tickets and will begin flights October 15. It will take over 52 of the newest planes from Alitalia’s fleet, and plans to get to 105 aircraft by 2025.
ITA has not announced its complete list of routes, but it will include flights into Rome and Milan from New York, Boston, and Miami.
Whether the new airline can have success or face the same issues that doomed Alitalia is up for debate.
“I think that no Italian politician and no Italian citizen seriously believes that Alitalia’s substitute can survive in such a highly competitive market,” Ugo Arrigo, an associate professor at Bicocca University in Milan, told Politico. “It would be wise to acknowledge this and renounce having a national airline to save the taxpayers $3 billion.”
Others, however, are more optimistic about ITA’s chances.
“It’s very well capitalized. That’s not easy at the moment,” said Andrea Giuricin, another transport economics professor at Bicocca University.