The wings of Italy

Alitalia (Airline of Italy) was founded in 1946 and its first flight was inaugurated with a Fiat aircraft on routes within Italy, it flew initially between Rome and Catania. It added its first international destination, Oslo. The airline was then expanding quickly although it was founded late as opposed to other major lagacy carriers which were founded in the 1920's and 1930's. Alitalia flew its first intercontinental route to South America in 1948 and continued to expand its global network.
The DC-7 aircraft was added to the fleet in the 1950's for long haul intercontinental flights, it was then the best aircraft available on the market before the dawn of the jet age. An other airline, Linee Aeree Italiane, which was also founded in the middle of the 1940's merged into Alitalia in 1957.

Alitalia saw the beginning of the jet age in 1960 when it introduced the Douglas DC-8 on long haul flights. The French built Caravelle was also added to the fleet, it would be assigned on short haul flights within Italy and Europe.
It was only in the beginning of the following decade that Alitalia introduced its first Boeing aircraft in the fleet, although still remaining loyal to the then rival Douglas. Two Boeing aircraft were introduced in the 1970's: the Boeing 727-200 to be assigned on medium haul flights and the then new Boeing 747-200 designed for hi capacity long haul flights.
Alitalia also added the Mc Donnell Douglas DC-9 and DC-10 aircraft to be operated on short and long haul flights respectively. The Boeing 727's didn't stay very long in the fleet, those were phased out in the early 1980's, in favor of the more efficient Mc Donnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The DC-9 and MD-80 were much preferred, probably because the latter two had one less flight deck crew member and one less engine. The DC-9's are now gone but there is still a large number of MD-80 aircraft in the fleet.
Alitalia also added the Airbus A300 in its fleet, it was assigned on hi capacity flights within Europe. Until the middle of the 1990's when the first Airbus narrow body type was added, the A300 was the only Airbus aircraft in the fleet. The A310 was not considered.

The 1990's saw major steps in the fleet renewal program. The DC-9's (one of them crashed in Zurich) were phased out and the first Airbus A321 was introduced on flights within Italy and Europe. While keeping a large fleet of MD-80's, the airline expanded its fleet by adding a large number of Airbus A319/320/321 aircraft, mostly A321's. The DC-10's were also phased out in favor of its successor, the MD-11, as well as the Boeing 767-300 Series aircraft. The Boeing 747's were replaced with Boeing 777-200's, the latter was chosen over the A340. Alitalia still operates the MD-11 but only as freighter, not in passenger version anymore.

Alitalia became a member of the Sky Team alliance in 2001, founded not long before by Air France and Delta. Today (early 2010's) Alitalia carries more than 20 million passengers a year on a global network covering nearly 100 destinations. All continents except Australia are covered by the airline itself.
Alitalia got into serious financial trouble during the middle of the 2000's, it almost faced liquidation. Air One was talking about a take over. The airline has been loosing one million Euros a day! Aeroflot, as well as the Air France/KLM Group, also were considering a buyout of the airline but plans have been dropped. Although the airline became privatized and no longer government owned, the Italian government agreed to offer Alitalia a 300 million Euros loan to survive while restructuring. Several routes out of Milan Malpensa were dropped.
Alitalia's regional subsidiary operates a fleet of ATR-42's, Embraer 145's and 170's on short flights mostly within Italy and a few international destinations located not far from the main hubs.

I flew on an A319 from Brussels to Milan Linate in 2007, it was the only trip with Alitalia I have ever taken.
Will Alitalia survive in the long run? Future will tell, it will depend whether the loan will be paid back or not, of if the government will inject more money. Air France, currently managed by CEO Jean Cyril Spinetta, remains the only possible candidate for a buyout.
No posts.
No posts.