Alitalia Successor ITA to Swell Fleet With 59 Airbus Jets
(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s new state-backed airline Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA reached an outline deal to buy 28 Airbus SE jets and will lease 31 more as it consolidates its fleet around the European planemaker.
The purchased aircraft will comprise 10 A330neo wide-bodies, 11 of the top-selling A320neo family of narrow-bodies, and seven smaller A220s for regional routes, ITA said Thursday. They’re worth about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), Bloomberg reported earlier. The leased jets, a mix of the same models, will come from Air Lease Corp.
The new airline will start out with 52 Airbus planes inherited from bankrupt Alitalia SpA, with the first of the additional jets arriving from the end of the first quarter of 2022. Of those ordered from Airbus, 17 will come within the span of an initial business plan ending in 2025, with the A320neos due later.
ITA is gearing up for its launch on Oct. 15, when Alitalia will close after losing money for decades. The infusion of modern aircraft will help the new airline reduce its carbon footprint amid pressure on the industry to cut emissions, while keeping down the fuel bill as it competes with carriers include discount specialists Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc.
The leased planes will start arriving in the second half of 2022, with deliveries running through early 2025, Air Lease said in a separate statement.
By the end of 2025, 70% of the aircraft in an ITA fleet that should then be 105-strong will consist of new-generation jets, the company said, with around one-third owned outright.
|Alitalia jets:||From Airbus||Air Lease||Total|
Settling on a single planemaker will save money in areas such as pilot costs, after ITA originally targeted one manufacturer for single-aisle planes and another for wide-bodies. Alitalia has been a major Boeing Co. operator through much of its history, with some 777s still in its final fleet.
The deal marks another win for Airbus, which has had recent order success after trailing rival Boeing as demand for the U.S. firm’s 737 Max rebounds from a grounding prompted by two fatal crashes.
The European planemaker in August posted its best month for sales since January 2020 with an order from Delta Air Lines Inc. and the defection of Boeing customer Jet2 Plc to the A320-series from the 737. It’s also gaining some momentum around the A220, which is more readily available than the larger narrow-bodies.
ITA also announced plans to collaborate with Airbus on future technology. Still, the status of the 28-plane purchase as a memorandum of understanding means it’s not certain all of the orders will materialize, especially if the new operator runs into financial trouble like its predecessor.
The Alitalia name is being sold, with ITA seeking to win control of it in time for the launch, Bloomberg reported this month.
Led by former Fiat Chrysler executive Alfredo Altavilla, ITA aims to be a leaner company, with no more than 2,800 staff focused on the most profitable routes. The airline won’t be responsible for Alitalia’s debt and has ready access to cash, with Italy able to inject 1.35 billion euros over the next three years.
However, the European Commission ruled that it can’t purchase the bankrupt operator’s MilleMiglia loyalty program and will be able to take over only limited parts of its ground handling and maintenance businesses.
In a revised plan presented to lawmakers this month, ITA no longer expects to report a profit by 2023, envisaging a loss before interest and taxes of 33 million euros. That should turn to a profit of 108 million euros in 2024, it says.
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