We've not seen the words 'Alitalia' and 'profit' in the same sentence for a while, but owners of the new look, combined Alitalia/Air One operation have at least lodged their first profitable quarter since relaunching the carrier at the start of the year - the airline announcing a €15 million operating profit for its third quarter for three months ending 30 September.
Direct comparison with 2008 is nigh on impossible, given the complexities of trying to come up a with a like-for-like comparison of this year against a combination of slimmed down versions of Air One and Alitalia, even if figures for Alitalia in 2008 were readily available - which they are not. But the profit follows losses of €210 million and €63 million incurred in the first and second quarters respectively and outstrips its own target of reaching breakeven for the third quarter.
And while it might only be a modest profit, it must be a boost to the carrier given the tough market conditions and bearing in mind the old Alitalia racked of net losses in excess $3 billion between 2003-07 alone.
"The ability which Alitalia is demonstrating to be able to deal with a scenario of a market in great difficulty proves the validity of the industrial operation and of the investment made by the stockholders," says Alitalia chairman Robert Colaninno, who led the group of Italian investors which formally took control of the carrier early this year "The challenges that lie ahead are again many and complex, but today we know that we have the means to face them."