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