Alitalia has firmed its plans to launch flights from Milan Malpensa and Venice to Abu Dhabi, trebling its capacity to the hub of its key shareholder Etihad Airways.

The Italian carrier will operate a daily 293-seat configured Boeing 777-operated flights from Milan and deploy 250-seat configured Airbus A330s on its daily service from Venice. Both routes begin with the start of the summer timetable on 29 March.

The partners had outlined their intention to add Milan and Venice connections when their partnership, which has just been conditionally cleared by European regulator, was first announced in August. At the time the partners also identified Catania as another possible Italian route to Abu Dhabi.

It trebles Alitalia flights to Abu Dhabi - it already operates daily flights from Rome Fiumicino. Etihad Airways already operates daily links from Abu Dhabi to Rome and Milan, while Flightglobal's Innovata schedules for November show no link to Venice.

"Connections between Italy and the UAE have never been so strong," says Alitalia chief executive Gabriele Del Torchio. "We decided to focus our efforts in expanding our flights in Northern Italy, where the best of Italy’s industry resides. By investing in this territory, Alitalia aims to recapture its position as preferred airline through an innovative offering and service excellence.”

The partners, which already codeshare on Rome-Abu Dhabi flights, will codeshare on the new Alitalia flights to the UAE. This is part of a wide codeshare expansion that will, subject to government approval, see Etihad add its code to 15 Alitalia domestic routes out of Rome.

Under its partnership deal, Etiahd is taking a 49% stake in Alitalia, and that latter has already struck and expanded its codeshare relations with a number of Etihad's existing partners including Air Berlin and Jet Airways.

Source: Cirium Dashboard