Lufthansa Italia is to increase its fleet to eight Airbus A319s, as the new carrier confirms plans to open domestic Italian routes next month.

The airline operates a fleet of six but will take two additional jets to start the Italian flights.

Both aircraft, says a Lufthansa spokesman, will be drawn from the mainline Lufthansa fleet.

Lufthansa Italia is to open Italian domestic flights from 1 April, operating four daily flights on the Milan Malpensa-Rome Fiumicino route.

It will also start serving Naples twice-daily and Bari daily from Milan. The spokesman adds that the airline is not ruling out further Italian operations.

Lufthansa Italia began services in February and its network this month will extend to eight destinations: Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Budapest, Bucharest, Lisbon, Madrid and London Heathrow.

"Advance bookings for the coming months have developed so favourably that we are already in a position to expand our services," says Lufthansa executive vice-president Karl Ulrich Garnadt.

Three of the six daily connections on the London Heathrow route will be operated by Lufthansa's UK partner BMI, which is in the process of being acquired by the German flag-carrier.

"Despite the scarcity of slots at Heathrow, we will be able to offer our customers an extended, high-frequency service to London on this route," says Garnadt.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news