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Ciao Alitalia!

Today October the 14th 2021 marks the end of one of Europe’s oldest legacy carriers, founded as Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane as a result of an Anglo-Italian agreement between the Italian government and British European Airlines on September sixteenth, 1946 the company performed its inaugural flight using a Fiat G-12 Alcione piloted by Virginio Reinero departing from Turin to Catania on the Island of Sicily and finally landing at what would become the company’s main hub, the Italian Capital of Rome. On October thirty-first, 1957 Alitalia merged with Linee Aeree Italiane and took the iconic name of Alitalia.

At the time Alitalia was owned by the Italian Ministry of Treasury and other shareholders including company employees, Air France and KLM with the Italian government retaining the majority of the company’s shares. In a bid to modernise and augment their ageing fleet of old piston-powered Douglas DC-7s and Vickers Viscounts in the early nineteen sixties Alitalia leapt into the jet age with the introduction of the popular intra European Sud Caravelle and the longer-range intercontinental Douglas DC-8. In the years which followed Alitalia went on to fly many other Douglas Corporation and consequently McDonnell Douglas designs such as the Douglas DC-9 and DC-10 and the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and the MD-11.

Throughout the seventies, eighteen, nineties, and early two thousand Alitalia went on to operate a small fleet of the iconic Boeing 747-200 Jumbojet which were utilised on the airline’s most busy intercontinental routes. In the mid-nineteen nineties, Alitalia embarked on a fleet modernisation program focusing on the Airbus A320 family to serve the company’s intra European, North Africa and Middle East network, the larger Airbus 330-200 to serve on longer intercontinental routes and as a Boeing 747-200 replacement, Alitalia went for the more fuel-efficient twin-engined Boeing 777-200 which was deployed on the denser North American and Latin American routes.

Through the years Alitalia also served as an official airline for the Vatican, the Pope flies on a chartered Alitalia aircraft. The Pope’s flight is often nicknamed “Shepherd One” by the press, while the actual callsign is “Volo Papale” (Papal flight) followed by a flight number.

During the last three decades with the advent of numerous low-cost carriers and high-speed trains, Alitalia went into serious financial turmoil which brought the company to its knees. Hampered with European Union restrictions the Italian government was forced to pull the plug and start afresh with a new company, the new carrier which will be flying under the tradename of ITA Italia Trasporto Aereo is set to start operations as from tomorrow the fifteenth October 2021 and will be operating a mixed fleet of ex-Alitalia Airbus A320 family aircraft and Airbus A330s which in the immediate future are scheduled to be replaced by newer types such as the Airbus A220, Airbus A320Neo, and Airbus 330Neo. So as they say in Italian “in bocca al Lupo ITA.