Alitalia remains on course with breakeven plan

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Alitalia Group will take at least 20 new aircraft during the coming year, including five Airbus A330-200s to serve its intercontinental routes.

It will also renew the cabins of 10 Boeing 777-200s this year with a three-class configuration, it said as it announced its 2011 financial results.

In 2011 13 new aircraft entered its fleet, with 12 phased out, including three widebodies. This year a further 16 aircraft will leave.

According to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database, in 2012 the carrier is due to receive five A319s, five A330s and eight Embraer 175s, the latter for its Alitalia Cityliner operation. Deliveries of the 26 A320s it has on order are not due to commence until 2013. In addition it has another five A330s on option.

The carrier group, which includes Air One and Cityliner, saw EBIT losses narrow in 2011 to €6 million ($8 million) against a loss of €106 million in 2010.

It said the losses, which after tax and exceptional items hit €69 million, were in line with its "operating breakeven objectives".

Revenue for the year to 31 December grew 7.9% to €3.47 billion. Passenger revenues from international and intercontinental flights rose 7.2%, to 62% of total passenger revenues, it said.

The results were achieved despite the European economic problems which "significantly pushed down high-yield demand from the corporate segment" in the fourth quarter, events in key markets in North Africa and Japan, and the high price of fuel which added €266 million to its costs.

These were mitigated by "flexibility in scheduling, network design and fleet utilization, the development of long haul charter flights in the winter months", alongside cost cutting and developing agreements with "industrial and commercial partners", it added.

Air One, its low-cost operation, saw a 25% rise in passenger numbers to 1.4 million in the period from April to December, following the opening of a new base at Pisa.

New services will be launched by Alitalia this year between Rome and Bengasi in Libya, and additional frequencies added on the Milan-London City route. Further, Air One will add a new service between Milan Malpensa and London Gatwick.

The group also has a new chief executive following today's departure of Rocco Sabelli. He is replaced by Andrea Ragnetti, formerly CEO at electronics giant Philips's consumer lifestyle business.

Alitalia is presently engaged in a merger process with fellow Italian carriers WindJet and Blue Panorama.