New Italian carrier ITA gets approval to fly


ITA, Italy’s new flag carrier replacing long-struggling Alitalia, can begin operating and selling tickets, the country’s aviation authorities said Wednesday.

The ENAC civil aviation authority said it had issued an air operator’s certificate to the new public company, authorising it to fly beginning October 15 and sell tickets.

“ITA can take off,” said ENAC President Pierluigi Di Palma in a statement.

The upcoming launch of the new, leaner airline, Italia Trasporto Aereo, caps multiple state rescues of loss-making, legacy carrier Alitalia and dragged-out negotiations with the European Commission over bailout funds.

“The hope is that the new… company will contribute to the restart of the sector, contributing in a decisive way to overcome the difficulties arising from the pandemic crisis,” Di Palma said.

ITA’s scheduled debut comes amid serious challenges for the airline industry that was battered during the coronavirus pandemic, especially larger carriers already struggling to compete against low-cost airlines.

Italy reached a deal with Brussels in July for the new carrier after pledging that it would be fully independent of Alitalia, which was put under state administration in 2017.

Italy had repeatedly failed to find a buyer for its struggling airline.

Under the restructuring, ITA takes over part of Alitalia’s assets while relinquishing others, such as spinning off its ground operations and maintenance service, ceding airport slots, and halving its fleet of planes to about 50.

The air operator’s license granted by ENAC is the final administrative step in the process to get ITA off the ground.

Still unclear, however, is how Alitalia will reimburse or reroute the approximately 255,000 people, as estimated by Corriere della Sera daily, who have purchased tickets with the airline after October 15.