Alitalia Stops Selling Tickets as Replacement ITA Awaits Takeover
Italian flagship carrier Alitalia announced that it will finally stop selling tickets for travel after October 15, 2021. On the same date, the heavily debt-laden airline will be shut down and replaced by a brand new state-owned airline, known as Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA).
Alitalia has been in what's known as extraordinary administration since 2017, when major equity investor Etihad Airways cut its losses and stopped investing in what was Italy’s longest-running airline.
The Italian government had been propping up Alitalia with taxpayer-funded loans ever since, much to the dismay of the European Commission. Attempts to sell off the flagship carrier failed on several occasions; the COVID-19 pandemic delayed further attempts to solve the problem.
Ultimately, the Italian government struck a deal with the European Commission to create ITA as a fully independent airline that wouldn’t be liable for paying the millions of Euros that Alitalia had received from state coffers.
ITA will commence flying on October 15 and raise €700 million to acquire Alitalia assets, which will likely include the Alitalia brand name.
One of the European Commission's conditions was that Alitalia’s intellectual property rights be put out for public tender – opening up the possibility of a bidding war for the Alitalia name. However, ITA, affirmed the Alitalia brand is an "essential element in carrying out its industrial plan." If it wins, many consumers may not even realize that Alitalia was shut down in the first place.
ITA plans to start off with a fleet of around 52 aircraft, including seven wide body jets. The airline hopes to grow its fleet to 105 aircraft by 2025.