Alitalia to become 'sexiest airline in Europe': Hogan

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Alitalia will initiate a wide-ranging company rebranding in the first quarter of 2015 to transform it into "the sexiest airline in Europe", says Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan.

With the Abu Dhabi carrier set to take a 49% stake in Alitalia, Hogan says the focus will be on making the Italian flag carrier a premium brand and an "ambassador of Italy", with a focus on promoting the nation's luxury, culture and fashion of Italy.

"To me the sexiest airline in Europe should be Alitalia. So we are very focused and very committed to work with the marketing groups, work with our advertising agencies to create the sexiest, great service and a profitable airline as we move forward," says Hogan, adding: "We are going to embrace the culture, we are going to embrace the team at Alitalia. We are very keen to rebuild the brand."

The Etihad chief makes clear that the existing Alitalia brand is "going nowhere", but adds: "The way Alitalia is going to look in the future is certainly going to be different." Hogan says the plan is to "revamp the brand" in the first quarter of next year, and says a focus on service will be "fundamental" to this strategy.

Existing links between Italy and Abu Dhabi, including the Gulf city's Ferrari World amusement park, will also be promoted, he adds.