Rocketing fuel prices have forced Alitalia to take immediate measures to reduce costs and concentrate on its most profitable routes.

From the start of September, the Italian airline is to increase international fares by 3%, while on domestic flights there will be a L14,000 ($6.5) fuel surcharge.

The carrier is also moving to cut uneconomic routes. Introduction of the winter timetable in October will see the carrier drop a number of long-haul routes including those from Milan Malpensa to Sydney, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Bangkok and from Rome Fiumicino to Addis Ababa.

On the plus side, capacity on other routes including Bombay and Dubai is to be boosted. Cutbacks on its European and domestic route systems are also in the offing as the carrier begins a wide ranging review into its network.

The airline estimates that its fuel bill will be L500 billion higher this year, deepening what was already likely to be a dismal financial performance in a period when it is being readied for an already delayed privatisation by the Italian government .

The route reductions will be partly responsible for a projected capacity cut of 6.4% in November and 8.4% the following month. Despite the reductions the overall capacity this year will still have risen by 5%.

Source: Flight International