Start-up Airvia Italia eyes domestic routes from Rome

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Start-up Italian budget carrier Airvia Italia is looking to commence services later this year as European entrepreneurs seek to capitalise on growth in the low-fare market.

Airvia Italia is planning to establish a base in Rome from which it will operate domestic services, initially with a fleet of two aircraft but with a plan to expand to eight by 2004.

Details of intended destinations have yet to be disclosed, and the airline says it is still deciding which aircraft to operate out of the Boeing MD-82, British Aerospace 146 or Boeing 737.

Airvia says it is seeking outside investment amounting to €11.5 million ($10 million). It forecasts that operations over the 2002/3 period will bring in revenues of €43 million, rising to €78 million the following year and €115 million by 2004/5.

Although it expects to make a €1.3 million loss in the first year, Airvia claims that it will turn in a profit during its second year and generate profits of nearly €14 million in its third.

Airvia has not publicly identified any sources of funding but names the airline project’s management team as comprising head of operations Peter Foster, business development manager Roberto Boscia and marketing manager Annette Pinna.

Italy has recently become a scene of intense activity within the budget airline sector. Development of a domestic network from Rome was a strategy adopted by start-up carrier and British Airways franchise partner National Jet Italia (NJI).

NJI flew Boeing 737-400s and British Aerospace 146-300s on routes from Rome Fiumicino before ceasing operations in November last year. British World Airlines (BWA), which had ties with NJI, had also looked at starting up a Sicilian low-fare operation before its own collapse in December 2001.

Low-fare airline Ciao Fly is looking to operate domestic and international flights from Parma and Rimini from June, operating to secondary airports outside of European capital cities.