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Alitalia prepares to touch down for the last time

After more than seven decades in the skies, Alitalia will make its final voyage on Thursday with a late evening flight to Rome from Cagliari in Sardinia.

On October 14th, Alitalia makes its final flight, as it prepares to be replaced by the new carrier ITA.
On October 14th, Alitalia makes its final flight, as it prepares to be replaced by the new carrier ITA. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

When the plane touches down a little after 11pm, Italy’s national airline will have completed its 74-year run. The carrier is to be replaced by the slimmed-down ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo), which will employ 2,800 workers compared to Alitalia’s 11,000.

“Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I wanted to thank you for having accompanied us for these 74 years,” said a visibly emotional Alitalia air steward over the announcer as passengers at Rome’s Fiumicino airport prepared to board a midday flight on the final day of the company’s operation.

“Today is our last Alitalia flight, and from the bottom of our hearts, thanks for flying with us and putting your trust in us.”

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

Founded in 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali, but known popularly as Alitalia (a portmanteau of ‘Italy’ and ‘wings’), Italy’s former national airline flourished in Europe’s post-war boom.

The company continued to grow in the 70’s, expanding its range of aircraft, and was the first European airline to have a fleet made up entirely of jet planes.

But the end of the decade brought a troubled period of trade union strikes, and as Italy’s economy entered a period of decline in the 90’s, so did Alitalia’s fortunes.

In 2008, after years of loss-making, the company filed for bankruptcy protection and was privatised and relaunched. But the move failed to restore the airline’s finances, and in 2017 Alitalia filed for bankruptcy again.

READ ALSO: ITA: Italy’s new national airline starts selling tickets for US flights

When the Italian government announced last year that it intended to bail the company out to the tune of €3 billion, European Commission regulators raised concerns about the legality of the proposal.

The parties reached an agreement in July entailing the closure of Alitalia and the creation of a new, separate company sufficiently economically distanced from its predecessor – ITA, which starts operations tomorrow.

However, the Alitalia name may not be completely dead.

Under the terms of the Italian government’s deal with the EU Commission, the Alitalia brand was put up for auction, with the company’s commissioners stipulating a base price of €290 million – but no takers materialised.

ITA has reportedly offered €90 for the brand name, and negotiations are underway.

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STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers are once again set to face serious disruption as Italy will experience a new round of transport strikes in February. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel to, from and across Italy was disrupted by dozens of strikes in January

And, while many travellers might have hoped for a change in the trend, strikes are set to continue into February as Italian unions have already announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services as well as airline travel.

Here’s an overview of February’s main strike actions, including a national public transport strike on Friday, February 17th and another nationwide walkout from airport ground staff on Tuesday, February 28th.

Public transport

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) to protest against precarious work and “wild privatisation” attempts on the part of the Italian state.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action. As such, the amount of disruption travellers should expect on the day cannot be estimated yet. 

Air travel

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout in question will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

Rail

February 5th-6th: Calabria-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. Any information regarding the strike will be released on the following website page

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 19th: Veneto-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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