MILAN, Oct 14 Reuters - Alitalia, an historic symbol of Italian style and glamour brought low by economic mismanagement, will operate its last flight on Thursday after 75 years, before handing over to its downsized successor Italia Trasporto Aereo ITA The traditional choice of popes, prima donnas and Italian political elite, Alitalia has been run by state-appointed administrators since 2017 to avoid being liquidated.
A night flight from Rome's capital Cagliari due to land in Sardinia at 2100 GMT will mark the final bow for the airline founded in 1946 after a dizzying succession of restructurings and changes of ownership.
The company has only one year in the black this century and the government has run to its rescue many times, spending more than 8 billion euros $9.27 billion just in the last three years.
As has often been the case during its lifetime, Alitalia's last rites were often affected by political conflict, with far-right opposition party Brothers of Italy blaming Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government for its demise.
Today the party leader Giorgia Meloni dropped another jewel, a company that made the history of our nation and was proud to be Italian, said the leader:
Having pursued to sell Alitalia to private investors, Rome surrendered to the disastrous consequences of the pandemic for the airline sector in 2020 and decided to create ITA from its ashes.
The new carrier, which will invest 1.35 billion euros over three years, will start with 52 jets and 2800 employees, compared to about 110 aircraft and a workforce of 10,000 at Alitalia.
Under a deal negotiated with the European Commission, there must be clear discontinuity between Alitalia and its successor, and the new carrier needs to be profitable at the end of its 2021 - 2025 business plan.
However, Alitalia's legacy of heavy burdens, mismanagement and high political and trade union influence may be hard for ITA to shrug off.
The new carrier is expected to buy Alitalia's brand and is in talks with the traditional green-white - red livery.
The launch of a nimbler carrier leaves a question mark over the future of more than 7,000 Alitalia workers who will be placed into temporary lay off schemes paid for by the government until at least Sept. 2022, which would be put under temporary leave scheme in India.