By Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
ITA Airways Eyes Likely Agreement with Lufthansa As Delta Watches On
Though its operations first started less than three months ago, ITA Airways has become an airline of great interest both in its home country and around the world. The fact that it is the Italian national airline is a strategic factor both for the company itself and for other European and non-European airlines. Several sources have reported that not only the American carrier Delta is interested in becoming a partner of ITA Airways, but recently also the German behemoth Lufthansa.
ITA Airways is undoubtedly a newborn company, economically stable and focused on its future in order not to make the same mistakes as its predecessors. President Altavilla says it would be wrong to remain independent because ITA Airways is too small compared to the three big airline groups operating in Europe. So his goal is to form an alliance with a major partner as soon as possible before the start of the summer season, which tends to be a very profitable time for airlines in Europe.
Lufthansa’s offer is not official, but it is rumored that the German group is willing to acquire a significant share of ITA’s capital – not less than 15-20% with the possibility of reaching 40%. On the other hand, Delta, already in negotiations with Alitalia during the period the carrier was under administration, would likely prefer to see the agreement with the German giant go away in favor of their own deal with ITA to develop a stable network with Italy, one with an airline which Delta already has codeshare agreements.
Negotiations, although not yet official, seem to be trending toward Lufthansa, according to sources of the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. ITA’s president has also talked up the benefits of a European partnership over any other.
Today SkyTeam posted on its social channels an updated graphic with the 19 member airlines, including of course ITA Airways. The choice of ITA Airways to become part of the SkyTeam group, led by Delta and Air France, made it seem from the outset that the partner was Delta. However, the choice to be bound for only one year in this alliance opens up the possibility of new scenarios come the expiration of the term. Therefore, at the end of 2022, should the agreement with Lufthansa materialize, ITA Airways could switch to competition and become part of the Star Alliance group, which in Europe is anchored by Lufthansa.
It has been confirmed that the Airbus A350s that will join the ITA Airways fleet as of June 2022 are those that previously belonged to beleaguered Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines. However, the planes, despite never having been delivered to the Chinese airline due to financial problems, their internal fittings have already been completed and therefore do not match those of ITA Airways. All this will therefore have an increased cost for the internal and external retrofit, but it is not yet clear whether the company or the lessor will pay for it.