Relaunched Alitalia formally begins operations

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Italy's successor carrier to Alitalia has formally secured its operating licences and air operator's certificate, and is launching services today.

The Italian civil aviation authority ENAC yesterday revoked the licences and certificates for the previous incarnations of Alitalia, Alitalia Express and Volare, while approving those for the successor, which is also branded as Alitalia.

Formal transition to the new Alitalia, following its creation by investor group Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI), took place at ENAC's headquarters in Rome before a team of engineers and inspectors approved the relevant documentation and procedures.

CAI was renamed Alitalia at the beginning of this month as it acquired Alitalia's assets. "Maintenance, cargo and call centres are still businesses that we would work with but [would] not necessarily need to be owned by Alitalia," says a source close to the company.

Air France-KLM's decision to acquire 25% of Alitalia also cements the Italian carrier's position firmly within the SkyTeam alliance. Breaking out of the SkyTeam agreement would have cost €80-90 million ($106-120 million), according to the source.

"There are already strategies and benefits with Air France, but the investment takes them on to a whole new quantum," she adds.

Alitalia will start the process of rebranding the newly-acquired aircraft from merged airline Air One, a process that the Alitalia source says will "take some time - there will be a pragmatic approach to it". The joint fleet will consist of 148 aircraft serving 70 destinations, of which 23 will be domestic.