Alitalia reshapes 2008 network around Rome hub

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Italian flag-carrier Alitalia has reshaped its summer schedule based on its need to reduce “increasingly untenable” losses and its inability to sustain two competitive hubs.

Alitalia has already stated plans to concentrate hub operations at Rome Fiumicino. It says its Milan Malpensa hub simply duplicates a number of dedicated services already conducted to the downtown Milan Linate Airport.

Rome is the “most natural basin” for air transport demand in Italy, it adds. Alitalia intends to reinforce connections and frequencies but the carrier has opted to axe several unprofitable routes.

Among these are the long-haul services to Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi and Dakar. Regional destinations including Zagreb, Sarajevo, Skopje, Minsk, Lyon and Copenhagen have also been dropped.

Alitalia is also stopping domestic flights to Rimini, Olbia and Perugia. The airline says: “These destinations will be resumed as soon as conditions allow.”

Overall the carrier will serve 83 destinations during 2008. But while its Rome network will serve 77 destinations – comprising 14 intercontinental, 40 regional and 23 domestic – its network from Malpensa will only serve half that number, a total of 38. Milan Linate will have 18.

Alitalia will raise the number of weekly frequencies from Rome to more than 1,600 compared with just 366 from Malpensa and 499 from Linate.

Intercontinental services will concentrate on Italy’s main markets: the USA, Canada, Japan, South America and the Mediterranean. Alitalia is also intending to make greater use of its low-cost operation Volareweb which will potentially serve routes such as Copenhagen, Stockholm and Lisbon.

Alitalia’s Air Europe charter operation will concentrate during the summer on Indian Ocean, Caribbean and South American routes.