Alitalia's three-way merger continues Italian market shake-up

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Alitalia's intended merger with Blue Panorama and Wind Jet is the latest shake-up within an Italian market which has yet to stabilise, but it remains unclear how the integration will proceed.

The Italian flag-carrier highlights the complementary network and fleet of Wind Jet, while it emphasises the network and product specialisation of Blue Panorama.

A spokesman for Alitalia said it was "still in the first phase of this operation" and could give few details on how it will proceed.

"Things are changing day by day," he added.

In the wake of Alitalia's near-collapse, and its rebirth as a slimmer operation in early 2009, Italian air transport has undergone a series of substantial changes.

Air One became part of the new Alitalia, while Sardinian operator Meridiana subsequently combined with Eurofly to create Meridiana Fly, which last year built on the merger by integrating Air Italy.

Lufthansa has retreated from its attempt to establish an Italian operation in Milan, axing its Lufthansa Italia venture to concentrate instead on developing local regional carrier Air Dolomiti.

Other casualties of the turmoil include Livingston, grounded in 2010, plus Itali Airlines, Cargoitalia and Eagles Airlines over the last few months.

Alitalia said its tie-up with two more airlines is in line with the continuing consolidation in the market.

Wind Jet operates an Airbus single-aisle fleet, like Alitalia, and its bases in Sicily and the northern city of Rimini provide complementary networks.

The benefits of Blue Panorama's integration are arguably less clear, although it operates long-haul services to complementary markets.

Blue Panorama has Boeing aircraft - with a limited overlap with the Alitalia mainline fleet - but also plans to operate the Sukhoi Superjet, having agreed to take the type. It is unclear whether a Superjet deal would survive integration with Alitalia.

Alitalia said its merger with the two airlines is "subject to anti-trust approval".