Lufthansa eyes Italian flag-carrier ITA, sees Rome as new European hub

The Italian government wants to sell off Alitalia’s successor by the end of June.

By Bloomberg News, May 19 2022
Lufthansa eyes Italian flag-carrier ITA, sees Rome as new European hub

Lufthansa is circling Italy’s ITA Airways – the state-backed reboot of Alitalia – with the Italian government keen to lock in a sale of the carrier by the end of June.

Rome would become the group’s fifth hub, serving as a southern European hub alongside Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich (under Swiss) and Vienna (under Austrian Airlines).

Aeroporti di Roma CEO Marco Troncone has endorsed Lufthansa’s plans, ahead of binding offers being submitted by Monday May 23.

“We are very positive about the Lufthansa business model,” Troncone said in an interview. “The company has extensive experience in dealing with post-crisis carriers and managing multiple hubs.”

Troncone said that a Lufthansa-ITA combination would bolster Rome Fiumicino’s status as a long-haul hub from the Mediterranean region to North America, Asia and Middle East, while also boosting domestic markets.

Rome’s location in central Italy puts it beyond the immediate catchment areas of Lufthansa’s Munich hub, which has competed with more northerly airports including those in Milan.

ITA needs to team up with a larger carrier to boost revenue, while Fiumicino would benefit from being Lufthansa’s new interchange for southern Europe.

Rome as southern European hub

"When it comes to investments, we are only interested in restructured airlines, and we believe ITA is one of them” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told a news conference earlier this month.

Spohr said Italy was already Lufthansa's most important market in Europe, and globally its second largest after the United States, as it is the biggest intercontinental carrier for both Italians and people travelling to the country from abroad.

“Rome could play a very important role within Lufthansa,” he added, serving as a hub in southern Europe to complement Lufthansa's existing strong network in the north.

Lufthansa’s muscle-bound partner in a potential bid valued at up to €1.5 billion is Mediterranean Shipping Co, the world’s largest container shipping line – its fortunes buoyed by a surge in shipping fees during the pandemic – which also controls MSC Cruises, the world’s third-largest cruise brand.

Air France, Delta also in the wings

Also in the running is a consortium of Delta Air Lines, Air France-KLM and US fund Certares Management; and Indigo Partners, the top shareholder of low-cost carrier Wizz Air.

“Air France-KLM is in the lead in terms of actually making a potential investment,” clarified Delta CEO Ed Bastian, speaking with reporters in March.

“We’re providing strategic support through our partnership.”

ITA predecessor Alitalia was a long-standing member of the Delta-led joint venture on trans-Atlantic flights, something Bastian said couldn’t be the case with ITA if the Italian firm were to partner with a competitor such as Lufthansa, which alongside United Airlines competes in the Europe-U.S. market against Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

A bid for ITA could herald another chapter in the decades-long saga of Italy’s search for a viable national carrier. It comes as airlines seek to move beyond Covid-19, which has crushed demand for two years. The pandemic proved to be the final blow for Alitalia after it had already racked up debt.

ITA started flying in October, after replacing Italy's 75-year-old carrier Alitalia which was finally grounded after years of losses and failed rescue attempts.

The Italian government would retain a minority, non-controlling stake in the privatised ITA.

27 Apr 2017

Total posts 2

Wouldn't it be their 6th hub? 

I know BRU is a lot smaller than FRA/MUC/ZRH/VIE  but it's still a hub, and particularly useful for connecting to/from Francophone African countries


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 786

What I find interesting is Air Malta have now teamed up with Ryan Air to create "Malta Air" words are backwards so is this the new way to make money and reduce costs, is it more beneficial to team up with someone like Wizz to reduce costings for ITA. Forward thinking to Australia and the horror stories coming out from Qantas passengers is it also better to fast forward into a lower cost base as well the same way? 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1102

If Lufthansa succeeds, Star's absolute domination of central and western Europe will be complete.  Skyteam will continue to have 2 large hubs (CDG,AMS) but they are at the western edge of Europe and located too close to one another to operate separately.  Meanwhile Oneworld would continue to have no significant hub in continental western or central Europe.

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