Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — Coming off 14 straight months of passenger revenue growth, Alitalia is getting ready to resume nonstop service from Toronto to Rome on March 31.
At a luncheon in Toronto yesterday, Alitalia representatives briefed media about the airline’s growth strategy, its latest offerings both in the air and on the ground, and its continued efforts in North America – its #2 market after Italy – which include bringing back the popular Toronto-Rome route.
YYZ to FCO will resume March 31 with three weekly frequencies, and will increase to daily service from June 2-Sept. 28, 2019. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 the service will move to 5x weekly. Service will be operated with an Airbus 330 aircraft configured in three classes: Magnifica, Premium Economy and Economy.
This is just one of many new developments that have revitalized the Italian carrier. Plagued by financial struggles in the past, Alitalia was put under special administration in 2017 after workers rejected its most recent rescue plan. Since then, state-owned railway Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) and Delta Air Lines have entered negotiations to save Alitalia, with up to 30% going to FS and 15% to Delta.
Alitalia is confident that a deal will be finalized by end of April.
“Our target now is to build a new plan with new stakeholders,” said Nicola Bonacchi, Vice President Leisure Sales, Alitalia.
Added Giuseppe Careddu, Country Manager USA & Canada, “Last year we closed our best year ever. With the new organization that we’ve put in place, we’re focusing more on working with our trade partners, maximizing the capacity that we have, and offering the best way to sell Alitalia to stakeholders.”
Here’s an overview of what’s new at Italia:
Alitalia’s passenger revenue increased 4% in January 2019 compared to the same month the previous year, marking the 14th consecutive month of growth. Intercontinental passenger revenue increased 6% and represented a 48% share of total passenger revenue and carried 187,380 passengers on long-haul routes, an increase of 2.3%.
The carrier says growth was achieved without aircraft fleet expansion, and instead driven by “excellent performance in the international and intercontinental sectors” as well as a new Commercial Policy that focused on travel agency needs.
“Combined with a new Revenue Management and Pricing strategy, based on market share protection and preserving high yield traffic through a segmentation and volume strategy, we achieved good results,” said Alitalia.
Last year, Alitalia was the second most punctual airline in Europe and eighth in the world, with 83.2% of flights landing on schedule.
Most recently, in February 2019, the airline ranked #1 among the world’s most punctual airlines, with 90.1% of flights landing on schedule, according to FlightStats. This means that Alitalia’s on-time performance in February was 12 percentage points higher than the average punctuality index of world airlines (77.6%).
In addition to resuming Toronto-Rome service, Alitalia is also launching new nonstop service from Washington D.C. to Rome, marking the first time that the two capital cities will be connected. The route also marks Alitalia’s return to Washington D.C. after 13 years, when it operated service between D.C. and Milan Malpensa.
Other new routes include 4x weekly nonstop flights from Rome Fiumicino to the Maldives, as well as direct service from Milan Malpensa to Male with two weekly flights.
Alitalia opened a new lounge in 2018 within Pier E at Rome Fiumicino airport, replacing its lounge at the former Pier H. The Casa Alitalia lounge features live cooking and bar areas, Wi-Fi, showers and a children’s area, and is reserved for various Club members, Alitalia Magnifica and medium-haul business class passengers.
In an effort to keep company morale up, said Carredu, Alitalia unveiled new uniforms last November for its flight and ground personnel. Designed by Italian designer Alberta Ferretti, the 5,400 stylish and functional uniforms have been “happily embraced by our crew and staff for their comfortable elegance and as a visual symbol of Italian high fashion,” said the airline.
Last October, Alitalia appointed Gate Gourmet as the exclusive catering provider for all departures from Italy, followed by the revamping of the Economy Class menu on medium haul flights over three hours that includes tray service in place of a snack offering. The airline also improved the entire Economy class food offering on all intercontinental routes, and in 2019 it plans to serve “customized onboard menus”.
In its long-haul business class, Magnifica, all menus were redesigned in collaboration with Gambero Rosso, the world’s authority on Italian food and wine.
Moreover, passengers can enjoy ‘Dine on Time’ with Alitalia, a service that allows them to enjoy meals at any time during their flight.
“We want to keep the Italian standard very high on our flights,” said Carredu. “Now, passengers can experience Italy from the moment they step onboard.”
For more information go to Alitalia.com.