Lufthansa Italia start-up fleet based on Germanwings jets

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Five of the six Airbus A319 aircraft to be used for Lufthansa's new 'Italia' operation are to be sourced from budget affiliate Germanwings, while the sixth will come from its mainline fleet.

Lufthansa has also clarified that its own crews, rather than Air Dolomiti's, will be operating the Lufthansa Italia aircraft.

The German flag-carrier has already painted one Germanwings aircraft - serial number 654, registered D-AKNG - in Lufthansa Italia colours. This aircraft is listed in Flight's ACAS database as being owned by Leaseair.

A spokesman for Germanwings states that the carrier has "sold" four A319s to Lufthansa as part of the start-up plan for the Italia division, reducing the Germanwings fleet to 25 aircraft.

Lufthansa has not confirmed any purchase, although a Lufthansa spokeswoman says the Italia operation will use five Germanwings aircraft.

"All these aircraft are part of Lufthansa Group," she adds.

She states that, initially, Lufthansa pilots will crew the jets while the new company - based at Milan Malpensa - applies for its Italian air operator's certificate.

In contrast to earlier indications from the carrier, the spokeswoman says the Italia pilots will not be sourced from Lufthansa's local partner Air Dolomiti.

Lufthansa Italia will transform into an all-Italian carrier, with its own staff, as it secures its AOC. The airline will start serving European routes from Malpensa next February.