Alitalia goes low-cost in Europe, premium on international routes

By David Flynn, March 16 2017
Alitalia goes low-cost in Europe, premium on international routes

Alitalia will become a low-cost airline on flights within Europe but remain a 'full-service carrier' on international routes, under a five -year business plan released by the beleaguered Italian flag-carrier overnight.

Short and medium-range flights in Italy and around Europe will be fitted with more seats, while base airfares will drop and travellers will be encouraged to spend more beyond just the seat and the flight.

"We will simplify air fares and offer customers the opportunity to purchase products such as seat selection, checked-in luggage and priority boarding throughout the booking process, and all the way up to the airport gate," explained Alitalia CEO Cramer Ball.

"On flights that are four hours or less we will introduce the buy-on-board (meal) concept that is not only commonplace with low-cost carriers but is happening more and more at traditional, network airlines."

That cost-extra menu will include ‘made in Italy’ hot and cold food along with snacks and drinks.

Alitalia also pull 20 aircraft out of its domestic and European single-aisle fleet.

Speaking on the ambitious 'turnaround' program, Ball said "we must do this, especially in our short and medium haul business in order to provide a platform to grow our profitable long-haul business further in the future."

On the international side of the ledger, Alitalia says it will retain "a full-service model and maintain an intense focus on costs and efficiency."

The airline's Boeing 777 fleet will be fitted with new inflight entertainment including Internet, with the new flagship Boeing 777-300ER joining the fleet in August 2017.

Alitalia will also "re-evaluate" its transatlantic options with the aim of boosting flights on existing routes as well as adding new cities in the Americas, described as "one of its most underserved markets."

The airline – which is 49% owned by Etihad Airways and a partner of Virgin Australia – is seeking to strip out €1 billion in costs by 2019, the same year it predicts a 30% revenue increase and a return to profitability by 2019.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Makes me think how lucky we are in Australia where we have international standard business class on 4-5 hour domestic flights while in Europe business for the aame length in often just an economy seat with the middle blocked out. Alitalia's strategy makes sense for a struggling airline though


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

There is no 4-5 hours flights in Europe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2012

Total posts 117

Technically, there are some - to Russia and Turkey (if you consider these countries Europe) and to Canary Islands.

But yes you are right there are no flights 4 hours or above between business hubs that would justify international business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

There are. EDI to ATH for example. I don't know anyone who has done short-medium haul with Alitalia who thought what they needed was to DOWNgrade their product!


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

And what carrier flying EDI-ATH direct? I could not find any. Of course you may also consider route Azerbaijan to Iceland (both technically Europe) where distance just above 5k and thus flying time will be above 5hr.
If you do not get it I can put it direct - this post was with tongue-in-cheek. Longest "true Europe" flight is perhaps Helsinki - Lisbon with flying distance about 3.4k EDI-ATH is only 2.8K by air


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 943

I wonder if Air Malta fits into this some how, maybe they just need to scrap everything and start from scratch.

26 Nov 2016

Total posts 7

The "problem" in Europe is that one has options to flying.  Around the continent taking a train is often a very viable option and often one can drive as well.

That is also the problem to AlItalia.  It's not an airline trusted by Italians and the service is lacking.  Italy has an extensive train network that works really well, you can take a 2.5 hour train from Milano to Rome.  Italy is also vey driveable country.  And when you fly to other countries, you'll prefer foreign airlines.  If I was flying to Italy, AlItalia would be my last option.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1501

It is true that Europe has far more options for travel, but apparently flying often cheapest. And if you do not intend to leave Schengen then is looks pretty much like our domestic flight. Saying that I should add that I much prefer to take train from London to Paris - from door to door it faster than flying.

19 Sep 2012

Total posts 11

Seems like they're following BA's lead... 

The latest chapter in a decades long saga to keep Alitalia flying. The low cost model they are adopting for short and medium haul (intra-Europe) is in response to Ryanair which overtook AZ years ago inside Italy and continues to grab market share. On Long Haul, AZ has revamped the offering substantially and added many new markets (ICN, MEX, SCL) and these markets will be driven further if Italy's economy improves, which at the moment, it is not.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 129

My personal belief and preference is that its much nicer having a choice of menu /meal even if having to  purchase this as an extra , than a sweet or savory biscuit (1) and a soft drink/ coffee offered as their "Full Service" only in economy right now on Alitalia . 

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