First purchase for new successor to Alitalia blow to Boeing

Italy’s new state-backed airline Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA said it has reached a deal to buy 28 Airbus SE jets and lease an additional 31 planes as it consolidates its fleet around the European planemaker, Bloomberg News reports.

The memorandum of understanding includes 10 A330 neo wide-bodied planes, 11 of the A320 neo family of top-selling narrow-bodied jets, and seven smaller A220 jets for regional routes, according to a statement from the airline released Thursday.

The deal for new aircraft is worth about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), Bloomberg reported earlier, citing people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. The leased planes, coming from Air Lease Corp., will help the new airline expand after it begins operations in mid-October.

The new carrier is set to start operations on Oct. 15 and has agreed to take 52 planes that were operated by Alitalia SpA, it said in July. Alitalia is being wound down after losing money for decades. At the time, ITA said it would aim to reach 105 aircraft by 2025.

The infusion of new planes will allow ITA to transition to more modern aircraft that cost less to run and emit less carbon dioxide, and make the firm better able to compete with low-priced airlines such as RyanAir and EasyJet.

The first of the new Airbus jets is set to enter the ITA fleet in the first quarter of 2022. By the end of 2025, 70% of the ITA fleet will consist of new-generation aircraft.

In an updated plan seen by Bloomberg, ITA aims to own 32% of its fleet by 2025. It will also commit itself to working only with Airbus, after earlier considering two planemakers to supply its fleet.

The Alitalia name is being sold and ITA said it hopes to win control of it in time for the launch,

Led by former Fiat Chrysler executive Alfredo Altavilla, ITA aims to be a leaner company than its predecessor with no more than 2,800 staff focused on the most profitable routes.

The new airline won’t be responsible for Alitalia’s debt and has ready access to cash, with the Italian government able to inject 1.35 billion euros over the next three years.

However, the European Commission ruled that it can’t purchase the bankrupt operator’s MilleMiglia loyalty program and will be able to take over only limited parts of its ground handling and maintenance businesses.

© Copyright LaPresse