Ryanair positions for Alitalia cutbacks with Roman growth

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Ryanair is to allocate six aircraft to a new base at Rome Fiumicino airport and launch three new domestic routes to Catania, Lamezia and Palermo.

Daily flights to these southern Italian destinations will begin on 18 December. The Irish budget carrier also plans to operate daily business flights from Fiumicino to Barcelona and Brussels.

Over the next 12 months, six domestic services Ryanair already operates from Rome's Ciampino airport will be moved over to Fiumicino, freeing slots at the former facility for new international operations. The number of aircraft the carrier has based at Fiumicino is to be increased from six to "10 or 12" in October 2014.

Ryanair has also confirmed its intent to boost frequencies from Fiumicino if Alitalia cuts back. It says it has offered to feed Alitalia's international network from the airport by allowing the Italian flag carrier's domestic passengers to avail of one-way fares "from just €50" ($68).

The Irish airline adds that it has requested a meeting "to examine any other opportunities which may exist for co-operating with and assisting Alitalia in its current restructuring".

However, the Italian carrier has been quick to rebuff this offer, pointing out that it has "its own strategy, a business plan, its fleet and its crew, allowing it to have the necessary traffic flows to power international and intercontinental connections departing from Fiumicino hub".

In reference to €49 domestic fares Ryanair is offering, Alitalia says that with its own fares of €52 on the routes, it provides a service that is "completely different and of greater value" for a few euros' difference.

It seeks also to draw a distinction between its operations as a hub carrier and those of low-cost carriers which "operate in small airports tens of kilometres away from the cities".