Italy's new ITA Airways, the state-backed successor to Alitalia, intends to join a global airline alliance next year – but that might be Oneworld or Star Alliance, rather than Alitalia's former SkyTeam family.
"I am open to negotiate with everyone," ITA Chairman Alfredo Altavilla admitted at the airline's launch last week.
"ITA has been created to be a strategic element in one of the large networks that already exist in the sector," he said, adding that the startup "can't be a stand-alone carrier forever."
As previously and exclusively reported by Executive Traveller, SkyTeam began discussions with ITA prior to the new airline taking flight.
In late August, a spokesperson for SkyTeam told Executive Traveller the alliance "is currently partnering with Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), the new carrier replacing Alitalia as the national airline, to explore ways to continue providing SkyTeam’s 700 million customers with seamless connectivity to key Italian destinations."
But despite Alitalia's ties to SkyTeam, ITA could chart a decidedly different course.
ITA, Lufthansa and Star Alliance
One path would be to Star Alliance – the world's largest airline group – on the back of a renewed partnership with Lufthansa, with a spokesperson for the German flag-carrier confirming on the weekend "Lufthansa is open for a commercial partnership with ITA."
"After the USA, Italy is our most important foreign market," Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr remarked earlier this month in Boston on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of airline industry group IATA.
"We therefore believe that the natural home for a new Italian national airline is a partnership with Lufthansa," Spohr said, adding that he has already met with ITA's Altavilla.
ITA and Oneworld
Another option that can't be discounted is Oneworld, with alliance chairman and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker eager to add new members.
"We take our brand very seriously and we see the potential we have to keep on growing it," Al Baker told Executive Traveller earlier this month, saying he definitely wants more airlines to pull up a chair at the Oneworld table.
Al Baker has intimate first-hand knowledge of the Italian airline scene, with Qatar Airways having been the major backer and 49% stakeholder of Alitalia challenger Air Italy, which collapsed in February 2020.