Alitalia to resume flights to New York and Spain as Italy’s lockdown eases


Alitalia said on Wednesday it would increase flights by 36 percent as Italy prepares to welcome holidaymakers in June. The troubled Italian airline, which is set to be nationalised, plans to resume flights between Rome and New York as well as certain flights to Spain, including from Rome to Madrid and Barcelona, from June 2nd. 

It will also resume some domestic flights, including routes between Milan and southern Italian airports. The decision came after the Italian government announced unrestricted travel to and from EU countries, with no quarantine requirement, would be allowed from June 3rd. It is not yet known when unrestricted travel from the US will be allowed, however. From July, Alitalia said it plans to be operating at about 40 percent of its level it planned before the coronavirus crisis hit. 

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“Flight offering will increase according to demand, which is already recovering on some domestic routes, and benefiting from the progressive abolition by foreign countries of restrictions on flights and passengers from Italy” as well as relaxed measures Italy is imposing on inbound travellers, it said in a statement. Alitalia said did not cut back its flight schedule as much as some rivals in order to maintain essential services. In the first half of May, Alitalia operated 15 percent of the flights it did at the same time last year, a figure it said was double the rate of its major European carriers and many times the two percent level of low-cost carriers. 

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Alitalia continued to operate some routes throughout the shutdown, including flights between Rome and London as well as other European routes, which were used mainly by passengers being repatriated. On all of its flights it is filling only half of the seats to provide physical distance between passengers. The Italian government plans to create a new public company next month and inject at least three billion euros in order to save Alitalia, which has been dogged by years of losses and which investors including foreign airlines failed to turn around.