The relaunch strategy of Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is betting on the image of airline, that is now again a symbol of Made in Italy. And on new services for its passengers

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo

Alitalia is back. Investments in the fleet, new passenger services, more technology, and a new corporate image: this is Luca Cordero di Montezemolo’s ambitious plan to bring Alitalia back in the forefront of international air transport. The new Alitalia came into existence in 2015 when Etihad Airways bought 49% stake and, in the Chairman’s intentions, it’s set to return to being that icon it was until the 70s, but with a new market-oriented international culture.

Half of the top management is English-speaking, including the new Ceo, Cramer Ball, from Australia, the first non-Italian at the helm of Alitalia. Montezemolo has chosen him for his in-depth knowledge of the aviation industry, as he was previously Ceo of India’s Jet Airways and, before that, of Air Seychelles. The Chairman has led the airline’s rebranding, marking a change of direction compared to the past and introducing a new corporate culture. Alitalia’s fleet has a new ivory-white livery where an even more iconic and recognisable tricolour tailfin stands out embracing the fuselage.

In addition to the new image, Alitalia has introduced a series of new services for its clients. In fact, the aircrafts will provide wi-fi on flights exceeding 5 hours and connectivity will be ensured on the entire fleet very soon. Not to mention a chauffeur for business class clients, and a menu with the best Italian food and wine, thanks to which Alitalia has won once again the Global Traveller magazine award for Best Airline Cuisine. The long-haul business class is extremely elegant, as it features Poltrona Frau leather seats, Ferragamo amenity kit, and Frette blankets. The meal will be served at the time chosen by the passenger. New interiors with elegant black leather seats have been introduced also on medium- and short-haul flights.

But improvements are not limited to the flight. To reach an increasingly cosmopolitan and demanding public, the travel experience bar needs to be raised. This means specific investments in technology and airport services. A new website, which can be accessed from any device, is now online. Here, you can easily search the best offers and frequent flyers can plan their holiday prizes by easily checking seats availability. Coming soon, the new lounges for Freccia Alata Club members and business class clients in Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples, and New York.

The chairman has focused greatly on Rome Fiumicino, Alitalia’s operational base, where he ordered the purchase of new apron buses, two airsteps to get off the aircraft and reach the terminals more easily when jet bridges are not used, and new baggage carousels. He has also created a team with a distinctive uniform to support transiting passengers. Moreover, Montezemolo has agreed with Aeroporti di Roma to move part of Alitalia’s flights to pier F, which, according to Adr’s plans, should be completed in 2016.

However, if Alitalia aims at consolidating its presence in the global market, it must increase the number of intercontinental destinations. In 2016, the company will inaugurate new connections to Santiago de Chile and Mexico City, not to mention the flights to Seoul and Abu Dhabi (from Rome, Milan, and Venice) introduced in 2015. From these hubs, you can reach India, the Far East, and Australia with Etihad Airways. Moreover, Alitalia has connected Milan Malpensa with Shanghai throughout Expo 2015, thereby confirming to be a strategic infrastructure for major global events. The fleet of 120 aircraft is growing again, especially for long-haul flights, with two new A330 Airbuses, introduced in 2015, and a new Boeing 777, which will be introduced in 2016.

Alitalia is also attentive and scrupulous with its employees, as demonstrated by the significant investment in training programs. The newly inaugurated 2,000 square metres Excellence Training Academy provides also Style & Image and Culinary courses. The airline is hiring again. In 2015 it recruited almost 600 new employees.

The international markets are appreciating the new Alitalia by underwriting a EUR 325 million bond. This proves the credibility of the group’s industrial plan, according to which Alitalia should return to profit by 2017. It seems that Montezemolo really is changing Alitalia and is now hitting on the accelerator to make this recovery possible.