Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane

Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane (Alitalia – Italian Air Lines), in its later stages known as Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. in amministrazione straordinaria (in Extraordinary Administration), was the former Italian flag carrier. Based in Rome, the company had been in precarious economic conditions for many years and was subsequently liquidated.

Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A.
IATA ICAO Callsign
Ceased operations12 January 2009 (re-branded to Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana S.p.A, later Alitalia – Società Aerea Italiana)
Focus citiesLinate Airport
Frequent-flyer programMilleMiglia
AllianceSkyTeam (2001-2009)
SubsidiariesAlitalia Express
Volare Airlines
Fleet size172
HeadquartersRome, Italy
Key peopleAugusto Fantozzi (Extraordinary administrator)
WebsiteAlitalia Amministrazione Straordinaria: Sito ufficiale delle società Alitalia, Alitalia Servizi, Alitalia Airport, Alitalia Express, Volare in Amministrazione Straordinaria (in Italian)

The Italian government and some other organizations had invested €4.9 billion since 1998. Several attempts to take over or merge Alitalia were made between 2005 and 2009. In 2006 the government could no longer offer support to the failing airline since it had been forbidden by the European Union to inject new capital. In August 2008 Alitalia went bankrupt. Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI) bought the Alitalia brand and some assets for €1.052 billion ($1.33 billion), paying €427 million in cash and taking on €625 million in Alitalia debts on 12 December 2008.


Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. was established on 16 September 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali (Italian International Airlines). It was formed as a result of an Anglo-Italian agreement and was funded by the Italian government and British European Airways (BEA) in a 60/40 share arrangement with a capital of 900 million lire (£1,000,000).[1] Its popular name, Alitalia, blended the Italian words ali (wings) and Italia (Italy). It started operations on 5 May 1947, in which year it carried over 10,000 passengers. The inaugural flight was with a Fiat G.12 Alcione, piloted by Virginio Reinero from Turin to Catania and Rome.

Revenue passenger-kilometres, scheduled flights only, in millions
1960 1339
1965 3811
1969 6584
1971 8497
1975 9390
1980 12877
1985 16881
1989 20814
1995 31748
2000 40618
Source: World Air Transport Statistics (IATA)

The first intercontinental flight left a year later, flying between Milan and cities in South America. The Savoia-Marchetti SM.95 four engined airliner was used on European routes up to 1949. On 31 October 1957, Alitalia merged with Linee Aeree Italiane and took on the name of Alitalia Linee Aeree Italiane. Alitalia was owned by the Italian Ministry of the Treasury (49%), other shareholders, including employees (49%) and Air France-KLM (2%, now: 25%).

By 1960 Alitalia was operating jet airliners on some European routes (the Sud Caravelle) and the Douglas DC-8 on several longer distance routes. The Vickers Viscount propeller-turbine four-engined airliner was flown by Alitalia on its European network throughout the 1960s.

In 1978 Alitalia had its head office in the Palazzo Alitalia in Rome.[2]

By the 1990s Alitalia was carrying 25 million passengers annually. In 1997 it set up a regional subsidiary Alitalia Express and in 2001 became a member of SkyTeam. In November 2003 Alitalia announced that it would cut 2,700 jobs over the next three years to prepare the airline for a merger with Air France and KLM. In April 2004 Alitalia acquired Gandalf Airlines, a bankrupt regional airline, to gain additional slots at several European airports, mainly in Milan (Linate) and Paris (Charles De Gaulle).

Alitalia employed 18,182 staff as of March 2007.

Typically, the Pope flies on a chartered Alitalia Jet. The Pope's flight is often nicknamed "Shepherd One" by the press, while the actual callsign is "Volo Papale" (papal flight, in Italian) followed by a serial number.[3]

Financial and operating problems

Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. lost money for years owing to problems with pilots and crew members and labour difficulties, and to government and political interference with attempts to solve them. The Italian government supported Alitalia many times until the European Union set a moratorium on any support before 2011. Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. did not survive this moratorium. Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. went into liquidation in 2008. The viable parts of Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. were bought by the private company Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana on 12 December 2008, which started operations on 13 January 2009.

Alitalia has reported only one year of profit (1998) since its foundation in 1946. Alitalia reported net losses of more than €3.7 billion between 1999 and 2008. Previous state aid to Alitalia included some €1.5 billion in 1998 from the government of premier Romano Prodi. In 2002 Alitalia received a capital increase of €1.432 billion under the government of Silvio Berlusconi. In 2004 the Berlusconi government gave a €400mn 'bridge' loan to Alitalia. In 2005 the capital of Alitalia was increased by €1.6 billion, including an over €500mn bond float issued with the promise of a return to profit in 2006. (Unfortunately the year ended with a loss of €626 million). In 2008 the Italian government gave a bridging loan of €300mn to Alitalia.

The government could in 2006 no longer offer support to the failing airline since it had been forbidden by the European Union to inject new capital. Therefore, as all other attempts to save the company had failed, the Italian government announced its willingness to lead Alitalia towards privatization by lowering its part of ownership in it. Several failed attempts to take over or merge Alitalia were made.

In May 2008 the government issued a decree that would exempt Alitalia from disclosing information on this sale to the market.[4] As a consequence the trade in Alitalia stock at the Borsa Italiana in Milan was halted indefinitely by the stock exchange authorities as of 4 June 2008. Intesa Sanpaolo, as requested by the government, devised a plan in co-operation with the Italian cabinet. The plan was that Alitalia would file for bankruptcy, and thus be protected from its creditors. The next step of the plan was to split Alitalia in two parts, one part containing the debts and less promising parts of the company. After negotiations under supervision of the Italian government Alitalia filed for bankruptcy in August 2008.

In September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI revealed that he was offering his prayer for Alitalia after takeover talks broke down.[5]

CAI, Compagnia Aerea Italiana, a consortium of Italian investors, presented a binding offer of €1,100 million to Alitalia's bankruptcy administrator on 30 October 2008 to acquire parts of the airline, pressing ahead despite refusal by some pilots and flight attendants' unions to sign on to the rescue plan. The Italian government and the bankruptcy administrator agreed to the CAI takeover offer on 19 November 2008. The profitable assets of Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. were transferred to CAI on 12 December 2008, when CAI paid the offered sum. CAI paid €1.052 billion ($1.33 billion), paying €427 million in cash and taking on €625 million in Alitalia debts. CAI is liable for all Alitalia expenses per 1 December 2008.[6] CAI bought Air One as well.

Financial situation

Volare controversy

In December 2005, the bankrupt Volare Group (Volareweb, Air Europe) was put up for sale. Alitalia bid to buy the group (other bidders were Air One and Meridiana/Eurofly). Air One went to court claiming that Alitalia could not buy Volare Group as it had received state aid in the past. The TAR (Regional Administrative Tribunal) of Lazio tried to block Alitalia's acquisition of Volare Group but abandoned the attempt, claiming that Alitalia had repaid its €400 million loan and so there would be nothing stopping it from buying Volare Group. Air One also went to court, unsuccessfully. Alitalia created Volare SpA to buy the Volare Group. The airlines were becoming closer and Volare Group had started providing soft maintenance services for some Alitalia aircraft in Milan Malpensa airport. However, the Italian Consiglio di Stato (State Council) on 23 May 2006 has once again blocked the acquisition of the airline. It is not clear what is going to happen as Volare is in serious financial difficulties. On 2 November 2006 TAR court decided that the administrative procedure used by the Italian government to sell Volare to Alitalia was invalid but the selling contract is still valid because the administrative court was declared incompetent about this topic. If Air One wants to obtain Volare it will have to go to the local civil court and ask it to declare that the selling contract is invalid. Alitalia's offer for 38 million euros was the winning bid. On 15 May 2006 the former Volare Group employees were transferred to Volare SpA (the Alitalia subsidiary).

Malpensa hub

In 1995 Alitalia signed a partnership with KLM which aimed at a merger. The aim of the partnership was to develop Malpensa as a hub, along with Amsterdam (which lacked enough landing slots to expand further) and Rome Fiumicino. The problem was that in Milan there are two airports: Milan Linate (close to city centre but small) and Milan Malpensa (far from city but large and expandable). The Italian Government planned to move all flights to Milan Malpensa, apart from Milan-Rome Fiumicino.

The EU airlines went to the European Courts, as they claimed that the development of Milan Malpensa and the closure of Milan Linate would provide an anti-competitive situation in favour of Alitalia. They claimed that Alitalia could go on feeding its Fiumicino hub from Linate but they could not. Furthermore, they claimed that Malpensa was too far (40 km) and lacked the infrastructure to/from the city (the rail link would open a year after the opening of the hub). After many court disputes the EU decided to leave 33% of the flights at Linate until the rail link opened.

KLM broke off the alliance with Alitalia; and Cempella (head of Alitalia) was replaced by Mengozzi, who had the role of getting Alitalia back on track. In 2000 he signed a 2% share exchange with Air France and in 2001 joined the SkyTeam alliance.

In 2001 Alitalia renewed the ground handling contract with SEA.

In September 2007, Alitalia announced that it would nearly halve its hub at Malpensa and instead focus on Rome-Fiumicino and move all intercontinental flights there. Until this announcement, Malpensa had been Alitalia's primary hub for intercontinental flights. The transition away from Malpensa and towards Rome-Fiumicino was completed by the end of March 2008. Minor intercontentinental destinations, which previously received flights only from Malpensa, henceforth received only flights from Rome-Fiumicino, or else were discontinued.

Lawsuits and complaints

In December 2005, Italy's antitrust agency fined Alitalia €30,000 for misleading consumers by advertising a round-trip flight tariff while showing only the price of a one-way ticket. The antitrust agency in a statement said the advertisement appeared on Alitalia's web site during May and June 2005.

The European Court of Justice has in July 2008 rejected an appeal by Alitalia against the European Commission in a long-running inquiry into Italian state aid. The airline challenged conditions set by the commission in 2001 for the use of state aid in restructuring the company. The court ruling does not impose any new conditions on Alitalia and the commission considers the case settled. A statement: "the Court of First Instance dismisses Alitalia's action and confirms that the commission's decision of 2001 is valid". The court: "confirms the validity of each of the conditions imposed on Alitalia by the commission". These conditions were:

  • a requirement that the Italian authorities act as a normal shareholder;
  • that cash injections be used only for restructuring Alitalia and not for expanding the business;
  • that Alitalia sells its holding in the Hungarian airline Malev;
  • and that the state aid take the form of a one-off payment.

Alitalia Servizi

Carlo Cimoli, after becoming President and CEO of the Alitalia Group, divided the group into two holdings to cut costs. Alitalia (referred to as Alitalia Fly) controlled Alitalia Express, Volare SpA, Volare Airlines and Air Europe. Furthermore, it controlled 51% of Alitalia Servizi SpA which owned the following companies:

  • Alitalia Airport (100%): ground handling services in Rome Fiumicino, Palermo, Cagliari and London Heathrow (under the Alitalia Servizi brand). It provided passenger handling services in: Catania, Naples.
  • Alitalia Maintenance Systems (60%): maintenance services, it was 40% controlled by Lufthansa Technik.
  • Atitech (100%): maintenance services in Naples.

Alitalia Servizi also provided IT services for the Alitalia Group (which were partly outsourced) and ground handling in London Heathrow. It provided passenger handling in Brussels, Athens and Frankfurt. Alitalia Servizi was 49% owned by Fintecna (State agency). By 2008 it could have been sold as a whole or piece by piece as the agreements with the trade unions prevented Alitalia from selling Alitalia Servizi before 2008. Due to the Alitalia reorganisation Alitalia Servizi was never sold.

Alitalia Cargo

Established in 1947, Alitalia Cargo became a member of SkyTeam Cargo in 2001. Destinations concentrate on strategic markets in China, Korea, Japan and the USA.

Alitalia Cargo had a fleet of 5 MD-11 freighter aircraft operating from Malpensa International Airport. Due to financial turmoil Alitalia cargo division was sold off to new owners in 2009.

Alitalia Cargo ceased operations on 12 January 2009.

Alitalia Cargo operated three special Boeing 747 aircraft that were customized to hold 56 Cadillac Allantés each. Chassis were shipped from Detroit to Italy. The completed bodies were shipped another 3,300 miles (5,300 km) from Italy in specially equipped Boeing 747s, 56 at a time, back to Cadillac's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant.[7]



The Alitalia fleet consisted of the following aircraft (at 31 March 2008):

Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Routes Notes
J Y Total
Alitalia fleet
Airbus A319-100 22 126 126 Domestic
International short-medium
Airbus A320-200 40 153 153 Domestic
International short-medium
Airbus A321-100 12 187 187 Domestic
International short-medium
Boeing 777-200ER 11 42 249 291 International long haul
Alitalia Express fleet
ATR 72-212 4 66 66 Regional
ATR 72-500 6 66 66 Regional
Embraer ERJ-145 14 48 48 Domestic
International short-medium
Embraer ERJ-170 6 72 72 Domestic
International short-medium
Alitalia Cargo fleet
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F 5 Cargo Cargo

*Magnifica is the name of the Business Class offered on International medium-long haul flights.

Historical fleet

The airline operated the following aircraft:

Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane retired aircraft
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A300 1980 1997
Avro 691 Lancastrian 1947 1951 I-AHBX destroyed by engine fire after landing
Boeing 727-200 1977 1985
Boeing 737-200C 1992 1995 operated by Alitalia Cargo
Boeing 747-100 1970 1979
Boeing 747-200B 1971
Boeing 767-300ER 1995 2014
Convair CV-240 1953 1956
Convair CV-340 1953 1960
Convair 440 Metropolitan 1957 1960
Curtiss C-46 Commando 1962 1968
Douglas DC-3 1946 1964
Douglas DC-4 1950
Douglas DC-6 1950 1963
Douglas DC-6B 1953 1971 I-DIMO crashed as Flight 451
Douglas DC-7C 1958 1965 I-DUVO crashed as Flight 618
Douglas DC-8-43 1960 1977 I-DIWD crashed as Flight 771
I-DIWB crashed as Flight 112
I-DIWF crashed as Flight 660
Douglas DC-8-62 1967 1981
Douglas DC-9-30 1967 1996 I-DIKQ crashed as Flight 4128
I-ATJA crashed as Flight 404
Fiat G.12 1947 1950
Fokker F27 1964 1985
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1973 1985
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 1991 2003 from 2004 operated by Alitalia Cargo
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 1983 2013
Savoia-Marchetti S.M.95 1947 1951 I-DALO crashed near Civitavecchia
Sud Aviation Caravelle 1960 1977 I-DABF crashed as Flight 342
Vickers Viscount 1957 1968 I-LIZT crashed during a crew check
I-LAKE crashed as Flight 45


The airline's frequent flyer programme was named "MilleMiglia", and was part of the SkyTeam alliance programme, allowing passengers to collect miles and redeem them with free tickets across the whole alliance.

Incidents and accidents

Seven Alitalia flights were hijacked, and 28 aircraft accidents or incidents involved Alitalia planes.[8]

Two Alitalia pilots, Alberto Nassetti and Pier Paolo Racchetti, were killed while acting as passengers during the 1994 A330 test flight.[9] Alitalia actually never purchased the A330, and dedicated two Boeing 767 aircraft to the lost pilots.

On 30 June 1982, an Alitalia Boeing 747 with 340 passengers was hijacked by a Sri Lankan man, Sepala Ekanayake. He demanded $300,000, for the plane to fly to Bangkok-Don Muang International Airport and for his wife and son to be brought to Bangkok. After the hijacking Sepala Ekanayake was sent to Sri Lanka where he was arrested and sentenced to prison.[10]

Alitalia Incidents and Accidents
Flight Date Aircraft Location Description Injuries
Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured
451 18 December 1954 Douglas DC-6B New York, Idlewild Airport The DC-6 was on its 4th attempt to land at New York-Idlewild when it struck the pier which supported the left row of runway 04 slope line approach lights.[11] 34 0 1 0
21 December 1959 Vickers Viscount Rome, Ciampino Airport Crashed short of the runway while used for a crew check involving a simulated emergency landing.[12] 2 0 0 0
AZ618 26 February 1960 Douglas DC-7C Shannon, Ireland Crashed after losing height after takeoff for unknown reasons.[13] 34 18 0 0
771 7 July 1962 Douglas DC-8 Mumbai, Sahar International Airport, India Controlled flight into terrain while on a night-time approach following a navigation error that caused a premature descent.[14] 94 0 0 0
45 28 March 1964 Vickers Viscount Naples, Monte Somma, Italy Crashed during an incorrect visual approach at night in bad weather conditions.[15] 45 0 0 0
660 2 August 1968 Douglas DC-8 Milan, Malpensa Airport, Italy Crashed following a non-standard approach procedure in very severe weather conditions.[16] 13 0 82 0
112 5 May 1972 Douglas DC-8 Palermo, Punta Raisi Airport, Italy Controlled flight into terrain while on a night-time approach non-compliant with the established procedures.[17] 115 0 0 0
4128 23 December 1978 McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Palermo, Punta Raisi Airport, Italy
Crashed in the sea shortly before landing while on a night-time approach following a premature descent.[18] 107 0 0 21
404 14 November 1990 McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Zürich, Kloten Airport, Switzerland Controlled flight into terrain while on a night-time approach after descending below the glide path because of incorrect indications in the NAV equipment.[19] 46 0 0 0

Head office

Alitalia's head office was located in Rome. The airline's last head office was on Viale Alessandro Marchetti.[20] In 1992 Agis Salpukas of The New York Times described the then-new headquarters building as "sleek."[21] Originally the airline had its head office at Via Maresciallo Pilsudski. In 1967 Alitalia moved its head office to a newly constructed building in the Esposizione Universale Roma (EUR) in Rome.[22] That head office, the Palazzo Alitalia, was in Piazzale Giulio Pastore.[23]


  1. "The Anglo-Italian Agreement". Flight International. 18 July 1946. p. 70. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  2. "World Airline Directory". Flight International. 22 April 1978. p. 1134. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  3. Willey, David (15 April 2008). "Pope's US tour: Reporter's diary". BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. "EU to label Italian loan for Alitalia 'illegal'-source". Reuters. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  5. "Labour minister fears the worst as Alitalia talks break down". The Guardian. Reuters. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  6. Sisto, Alberto (1 December 2008). "Funds delay holds up Alitalia deal closure-source". Reuters. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  7. John Monzo. "Allanté History". Cadillac Allanté / XLR Club. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  8. "Alitalia". Aviation Safety Database. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  9. European Parliament (30 July 1998). "Subject: Air crash at Blagnac (France)". Retrieved 23 December 2016. The seven victims included two Italian pilots working for Alitalia, Alberto Nassetti and Pier Paolo Racchetti, who were in Toulouse for a five-day commercial training programme at the headquarters of the French company.
  10. Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  11. Accident description for I-LINE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  12. Accident description for I-LIZT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  13. Accident description for I-DUVO at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  14. Accident description for I-DIWD at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  15. Accident description for I-LAKE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  16. Accident description for I-DIWF at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  17. Accident description for I-DIWB at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  18. Accident description for I-DIKQ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  19. Accident description for I-ATJA at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2016-12-23.
  20. Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane. "Copyright". Alitalia. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016. ALITALIA - Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. VAT 00903301000, Viale Alessandro Marchetti, 111, 00148 ROME - Italy
  21. Salpukas, Agis. "Will Alitalia Survive Competition American-Style?." The New York Times. 7 June 1992. Page 35, New York Edition.
  22. "A Brief History of Alitalia: 1964–1967". Alitalia. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  23. "World Airline Survey". Flight International. 11 April 1968. p. 520. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
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