The ENAC civil aviation authority said it had issued an air operator’s certificate to the new public company, authorising it to fly beginning October 15th and sell tickets.
“ITA can take off,” said ENAC President Pierluigi Di Palma in a statement.
The upcoming launch of the new, leaner airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo, caps multiple state rescues of loss-making, legacy carrier Alitalia and dragged-out negotiations with the European Commission over bailout funds.
Still unclear, however, is how Alitalia will reimburse or reroute the approximately 255,000 people, as estimated by the Corriere della Sera newspaper, who have purchased tickets with the airline for flights after October 15th.
“The hope is that the new… company will contribute to the restart of the sector, contributing in a decisive way to overcome the difficulties arising from the pandemic crisis,” Di Palma said.
ITA’s scheduled debut comes amid serious challenges for the airline industry that was battered during the coronavirus pandemic, especially larger carriers already struggling to compete against low-cost airlines.
Italy reached a deal with Brussels in July for the new carrier after pledging that it would be fully independent of Alitalia, which was put under state administration in 2017.
Italy had repeatedly failed to find a buyer for its struggling airline.
Under the restructuring, ITA takes over part of Alitalia’s assets while relinquishing others, such as spinning off its ground operations and maintenance service, ceding airport slots, and halving its fleet of planes to about 50.
— HDblog (@HDblog) July 15, 2021
The air operator’s license granted by ENAC is the final administrative step in the process to get ITA off the ground.
ITA has indicated it will make Rome Fiumicino its main international hub, with Milan Linate its second-biggest airport.
Its preliminary 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.
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, Los Angeles, Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires.
It has said that it aims to become “the first choice on international destinations to and from Rome Fiumicino”.