Alitalia Successor ITA Picks Airbus for Future Fleet

 - October 1, 2021, 10:32 AM
Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer (left), ITA executive chairman Alfredo Altavilla (center), and Air Lease Corporation executive president Steven Udvar-Hazy sign agreements for the future fleet of new-generation Airbus aircraft for ITA.

Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), the new Italian airline scheduled to replace Alitalia on October 15, plans to operate a single fleet of Airbus jets on its short-, medium-, and long-haul networks. The new airline will buy 28 jets directly from Airbus and acquire 56 aircraft from six lessors, including 31 under a deal with Air Lease Corporation (ALC), it confirmed Thursday. “ITA has done a thorough clean-sheet aircraft evaluation and has chosen Airbus across all segments. It sets a benchmark in driving the decarbonization and efficiency agenda,” commented Christian Scherer, Airbus's chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International. “From the start, we have been working closely with ITA, listening carefully to their requirement,” he said.

Management and consultants involved in ITA’s launch always made clear that they would not duplicate Alitalia’s diverse fleet and that the new airline would work with a single supplier to achieve flexibility in crew management and obtain greater efficiency in the supply of aircraft spare parts and maintenance activities. While Alitalia operated mainly A320 family aircraft and A330s, its fleet also included some Embraer E-Jets and Boeing 777s.

The memorandum of understanding with Airbus covers 10 A330neos for intercontinental routes, 11 A320neos, and a mix of seven A220-100s and -300s for short and medium-haul routes, both domestic and international. The airline did not release details of the ALC agreement; the lessor’s executive chairman, Steven F Udvar-Hazy, said only that the arrangement includes “the most modern A220 and A320/321neo family jets, as well the latest environmentally friendly widebody aircraft.” The 31 airliners are on long-term operating leases from ALC’s order book.

Overall, ITA plans to lease 56 new Airbuses, including A350-900s, among 13 long-haul jets. It emphasized that the leases come with “significantly more favorable economic conditions than those applied to Alitalia” and that it cut the number of lessors from 12 at Alitalia to six. ITA did not disclose the names of the other five leasing companies with which it concluded agreements.

“The strategic partnership with Airbus and ALC is crucial for ITA to jumpstart our business plan aiming at achieving our targets of a new environmental-friendly fleet with significantly lower operating and leasing costs,” said ITA executive chairman Alfredo Altavilla.

The first new jets will enter the fleet from the end of the first quarter of 2022; at the end of 2025, 70 percent of ITA's fleet will consist of new-generation aircraft out of a total of 105 units, the company said in a statement.

ITA will start with 52 airplanes inherited from Alitalia. However, the start-up has not yet presented a livery as it remains unsure whether its bid to acquire the Alitalia logo and brand will prove successful. Alitalia’s extraordinary administrators are asking €290 million ($336 million) for the brand and logo, a price that ITA finds too high.

The investment in new aircraft follows the European Commission’s decision last month that Italy’s €1.35 billion ($1.57 billion) capital injections in ITA are in line with market conditions and therefore do not amount to state aid under EU rules. It also found that ITA is not the economic successor of Alitalia and, hence, doesn’t have to repay the €900 million in illegal state aid received by Alitalia in 2017.