ITA Airways unveiled its ambitious expansion plans for the summer season of 2024. The Italian flag carrier succeeded Alitalia in 2021 and intends to introduce seven new international destinations, further enhancing its connectivity from Rome-Fiumicino (FCO), its main hub.
These expansion plans were shared during a press conference at the TTG Travel Experience International Tourism Fair in Rimini, Italy.
Long-Haul to North America
ITA Airways, in the long-haul segment, plans to resume services to two destinations previously part of Alitalia’s North American network.
Starting April 7, the airline will launch its flights from Rome to Chicago O’Hare six times a week, increasing to daily flights from June 7, 2024.
Additionally, Toronto, also a former Alitalia destination, will join the network with six weekly rotations starting on May 1, 2024, with daily operations beginning in June.
The Italian carrier plans to operate these two routes with its Airbus A330-200 and A330neo aircraft.
Chicago will be the seventh destination for the airline in the United States, joining cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.
Medium and Short-Haul Destinations
The airline also announced five medium and short-haul destinations, including two in Africa: Accra, set to start in June, and Dakar, beginning in July.
In the Middle East, ITA Airways will introduce flights to Riyadh in May, Kuwait City in June, and Jeddah in October by the end of the Summer season.
Focus on Quality Connectivity
Andrea Benassi, ITA Airways’ General Manager, expressed the airline’s dedication to providing quality domestic and international connectivity.
He emphasized the focus on intercontinental services and the importance of representing Italy globally. “ITA Airways wants to be the reference national carrier for the mobility of Italians by ensuring quality connectivity at both domestic and international levels, with a particular focus on the intercontinental segment,” he said.
“Since the start of our operations, our goal is to be an efficient, innovative carrier, representing Italy worldwide, Benassi added. “Our passengers should immediately feel at home and experience Italy even before landing.”
Lufthansa’s Expansion Plans
ITA Airways’ expansion towards Southern Europe could be part of a larger program supported by the Lufthansa Group.
Kuwait and Riyadh are two major hubs for ITA Airways’ current SkyTeam partners – Kuwait Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines. Therefore, it is likely that the Italian and Middle Eastern carriers will collaborate in these markets.
However, Lufthansa’s multi-hub growth ambition could be the reason behind the continuous expansion of ITA Airways’ route network to Africa and the Middle East from Rome-Fiumicino.
Edward Russell, Skift’s aviation editor, points out that Accra and Dakar might indeed be part of Lufthansa’s ambitions to connect Europe to Africa and South America through ITA Airways’ Rome hub.
In May, it was announced that the Lufthansa Group had invested €325 million in the Italian carrier. One of the critical reasons for this investment was the location of Rome close to Africa and Latin America, making it an advantageous hub for the German group.
“We are missing a southern hub compared to our European competitors, especially for the growing O&D traffic in and out of Africa and Latin America,” Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr said in May.
According to Russell, Rome is 430 miles south of the group’s southernmost hub, Zürich, and has space for more flights. In contrast, Zürich and Frankfurt are already at capacity limits. Therefore, ITA’s move to strengthen its African network at this point is not surprising.
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Many of these routes from Rome to the Middle East are expected to be operated by the airline’s new Airbus A321neos, featuring a premium-heavy configuration with business and premium economy classes. The first A321neo is currently performing test flights in Toulouse and is expected to join the airline in Q4, 2023.