Just how many last chances for salvation can one ­airline have?

Alitalia, one of Europe’s ailing legacy carriers, is ­facing yet another round of cost cutting as it attempts to make a long overdue return to profitability.

It has been here before, of course, as recently as 2014, when a transformation programme was launched in the wake of Etihad’s investment in the airline.

Back then, a return to the black was scheduled for 2017 – but faced with deteriorating market conditions and intense competition from low-cost rivals, that ­target has been pushed back to 2019.

Under the latest plan, the beleaguered flag carrier will slash its narrowbody fleet by 20%, instead concentrating on its medium- and long-haul operations. This might have made sense three years ago, before Norwegian revived the low-cost, long-haul model.

If the likes of Air France and now IAG, with the launch of its Level operation, feel compelled to react, you can be sure they feel there is a significant threat.

Alitalia’s move feels like a belated response – the change it should have made in 2014 when the danger from EasyJet and ­Ryanair was already obvious.

Besides, its plans may yet be scuppered by a veto from Italy’s notoriously intransigent trade unions.

Still, this is Alitalia, and it will always have another opportunity to save itself. Won’t it?

Source: Flight International