First look: Italian airline ITA’s new A350 business class

The SkyTeam member wants to give travellers a taste of ‘la dolce vita’ in its premium cabin.

By Chris Ashton, May 13 2022
First look: Italian airline ITA’s new A350 business class

Italian carrier ITA Airways has received its first of four Airbus A350 aircraft this week, with the newly delivered jet offering a tantalising glimpse at its latest business class.

Born from the ashes of state-owned Alitalia, which collapsed under crippling debt in 2021, ITA Airways is something of a reboot – a fresh start with an updated fleet and focus.

Now parked at Rome–Fiumicino Airport, the A350 was intended for Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines, though financial troubles meant it was unable to take delivery. Their loss is ITA’s gain.

Named after Italian racing legend Valentino Rossi, the aircraft retains the same two cabin layout implemented for Hainan, with 33 seats in business class and 301 in economy class. There is no premium economy.

First look at the new ITA Airways A350 business class. Twitter/Luca Bianchi
First look at the new ITA Airways A350 business class
Twitter/Luca Bianchi

In business, the seat is based on the Collins ‘Super Diamond’, which travellers will likely recognise from Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Signature Class, Fiji Airways’ A350 business class, and Virgin Australia’s now-defunct ‘The Business’ cabin.

It’s a go-to for many airlines, with its 1-2-1 configuration delivering aisle access for every guest, plus ample storage and a lie-flat bed for passengers to stretch out on those longer flights.

An attractive blue and cream colour scheme flows from nose to tail – a more contemporary look than featured on its current fleet. It’s very safe though, with only a subtle Italian flag on the headrests and red sash belts adding some much-needed flair.

The cabin features 33 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.. Twitter/Luca Bianchi
The cabin features 33 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Twitter/Luca Bianchi

ITA Airways flies to 41 domestic and international destinations, including London, Athens and Madrid. A member of the SkyTeam alliance, business class and elite status holders can enjoy access to 750 branded and partner airline lounges worldwide.

While state-owned, the Italian government is pushing ahead with plans to sell the airline by the end of June, with Economy Minister Daniele Franco setting a deadline for binding offers of May 23.

Delta, Lufthansa/MSC, and Air France are the three prospective bidders.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

Wonder if they will make the return to Sydney, Alitalia along time ago had Sydney on its routes.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 82

Not while  🐪🐪🐪 and SQ rule the airways

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

I’d prefer 🐫🐪🐫 and 🦁🦁🦁 any day

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1087

It is just not economic for a European airline to operate to Australia competing against Asian and ME carriers who have massive hubs in between.  That s why BA is now the only European airline flying to Australia and, even then, it is only a single route.  The days when VS, LH, AZ, OA, NG and KL all flew to Australia are never coming back.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 569

If Qantas can fly AUS-LHR non-stop and make money from it, surely VS could do the same in their 787s?  What am I not understanding?

30 Aug 2019

Total posts 2

As a state owned airline they need to change the culture to have any chance.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 91

Wile no guarantee of good or ill, I'd suggest that every US airline would prove private ownership is no panacea. I wish ITA all the best regardless of ownership structure.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 412

basically the Asian carriers have taken over the Australia to Italy market since Alitalia left Australia and in more recent times Qatar and Emirates.these guys would have to offer something competitive one stop obviously to win over the market who have since moved to QR,EK AND SQ.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

If I told the local Italian, Maltese, Sicilian communities there was an Italian Airline flying in to Australia they would use the service even if it was a Fokker50 prop plane.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 46

If they did want to return to Australia, (highly unlikely I suspect,) an order for some A350-1000 (Sunrise Version) would seem to be the optimal aircraft choice. 

Should these aircraft now be known as 350-1000XLR's ?

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 175

Even if ITA could fill a plane between Australia and Italy if it isn't profitably or with a sufficient yield, what is the point?

Any airline can fill a plane.  The trick is, getting people to pay a fare that is likely higher than the Gulf carriers to fly them.  Some leisure travellers will.  Most won't.

What would you do if you were an airline CEO?  Stick your valuable assets, your aircraft on say Milan - East Coast USA where competition is lighter and you can easily get in two sectors a day, two full revenue earning opportunities?  Or send the same revenue bringing resource onto one 22hr flight into a super competitive arena?  The answer is pretty obvious.  And resources (aircraft) are not unlimited.  Airlines don't buy aircraft and then think 'ok where can we fly them'.  They buy their aircraft to fit into their route network plans and where they won't be paying for resources they won't use.  And the resources they have, they'll put them where they will bring the greatest returns.

Flying to Australia (or the East - period) from Europe is difficult due to the HUGE range of connection possibilities that are available via the Gulf carriers.  For example - say you live in Newcastle (UK) and want to fly to Phuket.  You can of course pay silly money to fly Newcastle - Heathrow - Bangkok on BA then transfer on a domestic flight to Phuket.  Or, you can fly (at a competitive price) direct from Newcastle to Dubai then from there direct to Phuket.  It is a no brainer.

With flights to Australia it's even tougher.  For a few hundred dollars more in airfare you have to factor in increased aircraft utilisation (you'll need an additional aircraft to sustain the Asia - Australia - Asia segment on a daily basis) and increased crew costs (crew will be away for at least 8 or 9 days).  Add onto that the fact most airlines that fly to SYD just leave their aircraft on the ground bringing in no revenue for most of the day due to curfews, and the economics of operating the route from europe just do not stack up for most.

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 35

The good old days indeed, also AF, AOM…..even MEA and Egyptair.

Now that aircraft exist that can do it non stop, eliminating the expensive double crew layover in SeAsia, maybe LH AF ot ITA may look at it.

Even if it was seasonal, like the proposed Qantas, Perth Rome flights.

Etihad

07 Jan 2016

Total posts 13

agreed with @boeing727 it would be great if they could have a Rome- Perth or Milan Malpensa- Perth 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

@Flying-Doctor Didn't you get the memo WA is on the banned list after McGown locked up so many doctor's wives during Covid. The best one was the SOS sent out by Port Hedland Hospital over Xmas for an emergency doctor when the doctor's wife turned up the Police put her in a Covid Hotel, gave her a fine and sent her back to QLD the next day. The doctor who went out of his way as a favour to the hospital then spent Xmas away from his family, all WA Health could do is send out apology letters.


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