For members


ITA: What does Italy’s new national airline mean for travellers?

With the successor to Alitalia launching on Friday, here's what the new national airline means for people flying to, from and within Italy.

ITA will take over some of Alitalia's routes to and from Italy, but not all.
ITA will take over some of Alitalia's routes to and from Italy, but not all. Photo: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italia Trasporto Aereo, or ITA, starts flying from October 15th after former national carrier Alitalia touched down for the last time on Thursday evening.

It completed its final trip from Cagliari to Rome after 74 four years in the air.

ITA’s maiden voyage from Rome to Milan Linate departed from Fiumicino airport at 6.30am on Friday.

Is this the same company by another name?

EU regulators wanted to make sure that financially the new carrier was fully separate from Alitalia, as the bankrupt airline had received billions of euros from the Italian state to keep it operating over the years.

ITA is required to buy Alitalia’s brand, aircraft and other assets in order to ensure that it is not just the same company by a different name, and therefore liable for Alitalia’s debts.

However the new carrier is set to look very similar.

ITA purchased the Alitalia brand on the eve its launch on October 14th for a knock-down price of €90 million.

Alitalia’s commissioners had put the brand name up for sale in an open tender – a condition insisted upon by the European Commission – with a base price of €290 million.

ITA’s executive president Alfredo Altavilla dismissed the initial asking price as ‘unrealistic’, reports the news daily Il Messaggero.

The purchase means state-backed ITA will be allowed to use its predecessor’s name and identity, including website domain, branding and uniforms.

So what changes as Alitalia becomes ITA? Here’s what we know.

What kind of airline is ITA?

ITA will look much the same as Alitalia, at least on the surface: it will retain the green-white-red colours, as well as Alitalia’s sloping ‘A’ in the shape of a plane’s tail.

But ITA is to be a smaller operation than Alitalia, retaining 85 percent of its predecessor’s take-off and landing slots at Milan Linate airport and 43 percent at Rome Fiumicino.

Its fleet is planned to be around half the size, starting with 52 aircraft, most of them smaller narrow-body planes. It will employ fewer than 3,000 people compared to the more than 11,000 who work for Alitalia currently, handing off ground operations and maintenance service to subsidiaries. 

Not all costs are being cut, however: ITA is not expected to seek to compete with budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet, which have been snapping up slots at Italian airports as Alitalia flounders. Ryanair is expected to become the biggest domestic carrier in Italy this summer, with more than 100 routes. 

ITA is more likely to look for niche routes that its low-cost competitors don’t cover, as well as offering long-haul flights and full onboard service. 

Where will ITA fly?

ITA plans to make Rome Fiumicino its main international hub, with Milan Linate its second-biggest airport.

Its business plan includes 61 routes in 2021 to 45 different destinations, chiefly other European capitals including Paris, London, Amsterdam and Brussels.

Its long-haul routes will focus on major airports in the United States and Japan, including New York, Boston, Miami and Tokyo. 

The carrier began selling tickets for its first transatlantic flights on October 5th.

ITA will initially fly from Rome Fiumicino to New York JFK, Miami, Boston, and Los Angeles, and from Milan Malpensa to New York JFK.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about travel between the USA and Italy

The company’s first intercontinental route will be Rome Fiumicino to JFK, with six flights each way per week from November 4th, rising to 10 weekly flights by December 2021 and up to 14 a week over the Christmas holiday period.

It will also fly domestically between 21 airports in Italy, allowing people travelling to or from smaller airports such as Venice, Genoa, Verona, Florence, Naples and Bari to connect to international flights in Rome or Milan.

By 2025 the airline hopes to add nearly 30 new destinations, including Washington DC, Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires.

It has said that it aims to become “the first choice on international destinations to and from Rome Fiumicino and to be the key company for business and leisure traffic to and from Milan Linate”. 

Travellers at Fiumicino airport. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

What about passengers who had booked Alitalia flights?

EU rules on passengers’ rights in the event of cancellations bind airlines to offer customers either an alternative flight or a full refund (find a guide here).

Alitalia last month stopped selling tickets for flights from October 15th, and confirmed that customers who had booked tickets after that point can receive a refund.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper previously estimated that some 255,000 people had tickets booked with Alitalia after October 15th.

READ ALSO: What are my rights in Italy if a flight is cancelled or delayed?

Under the European Commission’s continuity rules, ITA is barred from inheriting Alitalia’s MilleMiglia free miles programme, which has six million members, reports the news outlet Il Sole 24 Ore.

The best hope for the loyalty programme’s customers hoping to retain their credit is that Alitalia’s commissioners find another buyer, with American Express expected to show an interest, according to the outlet.

Member comments

  1. We are planning to fly to Rome on Sept 30th and returning to NYC on Oct,15th.I spent 2 hours on hold with Alitalia today trying to get an answer whether ITA will honor Alitalia tickets. The customer service rep was insulted by the question. “Of course your return ticket will be honored”….and the ITA debut hasn’t been settled yet… I also contacted Amex (the card that I used to purchase the tickets) to have them help sort out the flight status. Hopefully, this will be sorted out before October.

  2. We are in the same situation our flight returns to MIA from FCO on Oct 16, a day after Alitalia closes. I can’t find information as how our return will be handled. Delta as well as Alitalia continue selling seats on this flight. Worse case scenario, longer Rome vacation.? I hope someone provides some information soon

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EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.