Sicilians take the lead

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Sicilian airline WindJet styled itself as Italy’s first low-cost carrier when it launched in 2003, operating a mix of scheduled domestic and charter flights between northern and southern Italy from Catania, Palermo and Forli.

Chief executive Angelo Lobianco says the carrier is responding to the entry of rival low-cost carriers through competitive pricing, domestic network development, and launching new international routes. Flying eight Airbus A320s, its fleet-expansion strategy means that the airline will be operating 12 aircraft by May. “The Italian market has entered into a new competitive arena with traditional carriers forced to face fierce competition from both the low-cost domestic and international carriers,” says Lobianco. “They haven’t found any other way to compete other than pricing and this has meant a dramatic decrease in profitability.

“Foreign low-cost carriers have now started to fly domestic routes and will soon gain significant market share. We don’t see how the Italian flag carrier Alitalia and the other ‘traditional’ carriers will survive if they don’t find a new way to compete or change their cost structure.”