Alitalia cargo plans new routes, frequencies

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Seoul, Beijing, Santiago, Mexico City, San Francisco (US) and Shanghai (China) are all new routes from 2015 to 2018 for Alitalia’s bellyhold freight services, as the airlines’ investor, Etihad Airways, announces its strategy for the Italian carrier, which is also boasting increased frequencies from this year.

Etihad published its strategy for Alitalia on 20 January, but it makes no mention of cargo. On 8 August last year Etihad Airways’ announced its 560 million euros ($648.1 million) investment in Alitalia. At the time it also said it would relaunch Alitalia’s cargo business.

Following the cargo-less 20 January strategy statement, Alitalia tells Air Cargo Week that the plan is still for it to, “cooperate with partners on dedicated freighter operations,” and that it, “has plans to build a cargo hub at [Milan] Malpensa [Airport]”. 

Malpensa is an important part of the 20 January strategy. In its strategy statement Etihad describes the way ahead as, “a new three-hub strategy in Italy. Milan Malpensa will increase long-haul services, while Milan Linate [Airport] will increase connectivity with partner airline hubs.” The strategy also states that Alitalia will add 13 weekly flights from Malpensa, “with daily services to Abu Dhabi, four flights a week to Shanghai and additional flights to Tokyo”. 

According to the joint Etihad-Alitalia 8 August 2014 statement, long haul flights from Malpensa would more than double to 25 flights a week by 2018. Despite Malpensa’s apparent importance, the new freight routes and increased frequencies of its bellyhold services, Alitalia informs ACW about, are mostly operating from Rome. Of the new routes, only Shanghai’s service flies from Milan at a frequency of four times a week. Bar Rome to Seoul, which also has four fights per week, all the other Rome departing 2015 destinations have three frequencies. Of the six new destinations, Santiago and Mexico City start in 2016 and San Francisco in 2018. Of the existing routes, this year will see an additional two weekly flights to Abu Dhabi and Chicago (US) and four more per week to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). New York (US) gets one more flight this year and in 2016. In 2017, the new routes of Beijing, Santiago, Mexico City, all get four more flights per week.

Alitalia also tells ACW: “There is also a whole new range of cargo opportunities to be explored thanks to the increased connectivity with the Etihad Airways network, mainly through its Abu Dhabi hub, with new direct flights from Milan, Venice, Catania and Bologna, and with the Etihad partners.” For Alitalia’s fleet, the August 2014 statement referred to, “joint procurement” of aircraft while the 20 January strategy says they are “looking into” options for acquiring widebody aircraft. Alitalia once operated Boeing MD-11 Freighters (see picture).

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