Alitalia can survive low-cost onslaught: EasyJet chief

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EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall believes Alitalia can survive an onslaught by low-cost carriers into its domestic market, but says the Italian flag carrier must take a "rational view" of its future operations.

The UK low-cost airline is adding capacity at Rome Fiumicino, following the lead of rivals Vueling and Ryanair, which is to open a base at the airport. EasyJet is also opening its third Italian base at Naples in March and increasing its operation in Catania. The low-costs are competing directly with Alitalia on an increasing number of routes.

"I don’t believe Alitalia is going to collapse," says McCall of the beleagured Italian airline, which is trying to refinance its business with a €300 million ($413 million) capital increase. "It is important to have them in the market."

However, McCall – who spoke exclusively to Flightglobal at a pilot graduation ceremony in Southampton, UK on 13 December, after returning from meeting aviation officials in Rome – adds: "We are very clear about our [Italian expansion] strategy. We are responding to a long-term reduction in capacity from Alitalia."