Italian authorities have transferred the suspended
licence of failed carrier AzzurraAir to Air Blu, giving it the
green light to relaunch the Milan-based airline on 3 June.
recent decision by a tribunal at Busto
Arsizio will now allow Air Blu to
train, certify or recertify both ex-AzzurraAir crews and
ground staff in a bid to reactivate the airline’s air operator’s certificate (AOC)
which was suspended by Italian civil aviation administration ENAC.
operated flights from Italy to European destinations until it suspended
operations in March 2004 when its BAE Systems Avro RJ fleet was withdrawn by
lessor and co-owner Air Malta. ENAC also froze its licence, certification and
Blu which is based at Ronchi-Trieste says its strategic objective is to create
a transalpine network for cargo and civilian traffic in an effort to exploit
Trieste and Milan’s strategic position at the crossroads of three European intermodal
Blu president and CEO Alberto Denzler helped
establish AzzurraAir in December 1995 together with Air Malta and
merchant bank Mediocredito Centrale before exiting in November 1998.
now have the chance to relaunch the company,” Denzler tells ATI who says
the agreement struck with the tribunal is initially for a six-month lease with
an option to buy. He adds that a combination of financing sources ranging from
family-owned businesses to banks and other operators means he has €20 million
to invest in Azzurra’s future.
foresees two specific roles for the two airlines: Air Blu will have the
commercial and co-ordinating responsibility to “feed” Azzurra business in terms
of back-to-back contracts.
Blu has never been interested in being a licensed carrier,” he says. “Its main
aim was always to do network management and, for the last two-and-a-half years,
we have leased capacity from failing airlines such as Air Littoral, Gandalf and
have, in fact, been 22 business failures in Italian commercial aviation and the
main reason why they failed is that they were far too small. That’s the main
difference with Azzurra which operated 13 aircraft.”
– which is being renamed AzzurraAir Airlines for legal reasons – will relaunch
from Milan Malpensa Airport with Avro RJs on 3 June through a Mediterranean
tour operator contract to Sardinia, Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza.
is simply in order to reactivate the licence. On 3 November the real programme
starts with back-to-back contracts from other operators, a virtual operation where
they provide the branding, local marketing and communications and we provide
the capacity and pick up the bill for
the globalisation,” says Denzler.
Air Blu CEO has also upgraded his projected fleet requirements and says that,
by the end of the year, Azzurra should be operating up to five aircraft – either
ATRs, Airbus A319s or even A330s.
“The Italian industry has, in the last three
months, gone haywire,” he says. “Airlines increasingly look as though they will
be stranded if they don’t get more capacity. We are going to build Azzurra on a
modular basis and fleet decisions will be made depending on demand and on-going
negotiations with suppliers.”
part of the strategic vision, the role of Trieste, the home base of Air Blu,
will become focused on cargo operations. “With its strategic position, it has
to become a specialised gateway, a way of opening up to new markets,” says
Blu has already started the process to re-employ around 50 ex-Minerva Airlines
staff who will be requalified and re-certificated, with the cost borne
principally by the regional government of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
regional operator Minerva suspended its scheduled services in October 2003. It
operated principally from the three Italian cities of Trieste, Genoa and Naples
on frequent services to destinations such as Milan and Perugia, operating a
fleet of seven Dornier 328 turboprops.
is essentially being funded by the Italian dole. The only way out of this
miserable situation of what happens to skilled people when an airline fails is
to have a pool of certified staff who can be virtual, that is, able to be
transferred between airlines,” says Denzler.