MILAN — Alitalia, the airline that for years represents Italy s postwar boom and the dolce vita, is slated to fly its final flight on Thursday, after the Covid-19 pandemic delivered a final blow to a company propped up by the country governments for years.
The 75 - year-old national flag carrier — which in the late 1960 s was Europe's third largest passenger company before British Airways and Air France — has been in an italian version of bankruptcy protection since 2017. It hasn t turned an annual profit in two decades, long still grappling with competition from its own high-cost airlines and its own low-cost workforce. Those troubles have continued almost to the very end: A strike this week led to cancelling more than 100 flights.
Employees of national airline Alitalia take part in a demonstration of about 1,000 Alitalia employees at Largo Santa Susanna near Rome's Ministry for Economic Development on April 14, 2021, near Italy s Ministry of Tourism. Formed shortly after World War II, it became the newer carrier of a newly emerging jet set between the U.S. and Europe. In particular, it whisked Italian and Italian movie stars between Italian and American movie sets. Alitalia s heyday coincided with the romanticization of Rome s sweet life in films such as Federico Fellini's 1960 La Dolce Vita. Illustrious fliers included Sophia Loren, who once took part in advertising for the airline. In a succession of popes, papal airports also used it as their airline of choice: Alitalia's distinctive yellow tail-fin colors served as backdrop for papal airport arrivals around the world. Pope Francis flew Alitalia from Hungary to Rome, and then onto Slovakia.