By Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
ITA Airways’ First Airbus A350 is Ready to begin Service
ITA Airways, Italy’s national airline, has painted the first Airbus A350 in its fleet. As it was already confirmed in January 2022 that the Airbus A350s that will join the ITA Airways fleet starting from June 2022 are the ones that previously belonged to the Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines.
The planes were never delivered to the Chinese airline due to financial problems. The Italian airline chose to lease six Airbus A350s for the long-haul, to complete the modernization of the fleet and thus pursue the green goal of reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%.
The aircraft is an Airbus A350 900 that was built in 2018 and has never been in service, so it is practically new. This will be the flagship aircraft as well as the largest in ITA Airways’ current fleet and will be used for intercontinental routes especially to North America.
The aircraft has been named after the coach who led the Italian national soccer team to victory in the 2006 World Cup, Marcello Lippi. The Airbus A350 is usually available in 2 versions, and the one chosen by ITA Airways is the 900, with 315 seats in a 3-class configuration. Although not much is known about the interiors yet, their fittings had already been completed for Hainan Airlines and therefore do not match those of ITA Airways. We will see in the coming days how this situation will be handled.
Another goal of the Italian national airline is therefore completed. The Airbus A350 was one of the airline’s main targets, being a key aircraft for the long-haul focus. From the beginning of May 2022, ITA Airways will introduce more routes to North America, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles, to South America with Buenos Aires and San Paulo and finally to Tokyo Haneda.
ITA Airways’ fleet continues to expand and it is anticipated that by the end of 2025, the fleet will consist of 17 owned aircraft and 88 leased aircraft. In 2028, 11 Airbus A320neo aircraft are expected to be added, so ITA Airways will own 28 aircraft.
From the promotional video presenting the new aircraft during the paint job, you can see the logo of SkyTeam, the alliance of which ITA Airways is currently a member. However, various rumors have brought the Italian flag carrier closer to Star Alliance, also considering the choice of being linked to SkyTeam for only one year. This opens up the possibility of new scenarios upon expiry of the contract term, i.e. at the end of 2022, given that if an agreement is reached for the purchase of ITA Airways by the Lufthansa group, this could mean an automatic switch to Star Alliance.