While Italy's flag carrier has weathered financial turbulence in recent years, things may be turning around for Alitalia.
Following a recent loan of $900 million USD by the Italian government, investment talks have taken place with fellow SkyTeam members Delta and EasyJet, as well as with state-owned Italian national railway Ferrovie dello Stato.
Overall, the airline saw a yearly increase in total passenger revenue of 7.1 per cent for 2018 and in keeping with that growth, Alitalia will resume its non-stop service from Toronto (YYZ) to Rome (FCO) this Sunday (March 31).
Flights will operate three times weekly, with more frequencies being added into the summer months, adding daily service June 2 through Sept. 28, 2019.
"Our strategy is to remain close with the trade markets here in Canada," said Nicola Bonacchi, VP of leisure sales and international markets, Alitalia.
The service will operate on an Airbus 330, featuring three classes of service: Magnifica, Premium Economy, and Economy, and will allow for seamless connections into the rest of Italy, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Canadian travellers have endless possibilities when travelling to Europe, and in particular, into Italy.
Long touted as a leisure destination, in more recent years, Italy is on track to position itself as an international choice for business travel and the MICE market, with major cities like Milan and Rome offering appropriate hotels, transit and large-scale venues.
Recognizing the rise in business travel, Alitalia has adapted its routes and service offerings to incorporate the demands of today's high-class travellers.
"We've taken great strides to innovate the business product; Italy is, and has always been a leisure holiday destination, but as a high-end product, now we're investing in business," Carredu said.
Alitalia was awarded the "Best Business Class Seat Design" by the Global Traveller Gttested Awards in Magnifica, the carrier's long-haul business class.
Magnifica seats allow for a flat-bed recline of 180° and a 22-inch seat width, compared to the 120° recline and 29-inch seat width of the Premium Economy class, and the 110° recline and 17-inch width of the Economy seat. Also found in this cabin are the airline's Honeymoon Seats, which allow couples travelling together to get closer.
All passengers, regardless of seating class, enjoy complimentary alcoholic beverages and meals, a pillow and blanket, an LCD screen offering more than 80 international films (15.4-inch on Magnifica, 10.6-inch on Premium Economy, and nine-inch on Economy), and one complimentary checked bag (Premium Economy and Magnifica classes are allowed two checked pieces, at 50 and 70 pounds each, respectively).
Mindful of its business travellers, Alitalia also offers complimentary Wi-Fi - up to 50MB for Magnifica travellers, and up to 10MB for Premium Economy travellers.
Not your average airplane food
Most business travellers board a plane with the intent on working as soon as they land. For many, that means taking a red-eye flight, sometimes forfeiting dinner in the process.
Despite what time it is when you fly out, airlines serve meals in accordance with the length of flight — you might not be hungry for chicken and mashed potatoes at 12 a.m., but if a dinner service is included on your international flight, there's a pretty good chance that this is what'll happen.
That's where Alitalia is different.
The airline has completely overhauled its food and beverage offering on board, with a brand new catering service that lets you eat when you want, and the best part is, the menus reflect the best flavours of authentic Italian gastronomy.
Called Dine Any Time, Alitalia's in-flight food service means no more waiting around for the beverage cart, or keeping yourself from falling asleep over fear of missing out on your only free meal.
"Our crew is available to give you food whenever you want, and you can even order a la carte style, just like as if you were in a restaurant," explained Giuseppe Careddu, country manager and director for the U.S. and Canada at Alitalia.
Alitalia also swaps out its menus every three months to align with what's fresh and in-season throughout various regions in Italy, which means every single passenger's real Italian experience begins on board, where they can taste the local flavours of places in Italy Alitalia flies to.
Back in November 2018, all Economy class menus on flights three hours or longer were revamped to now offer tray service as opposed to just a snack. Food offerings were also enhanced, and for 2019, the airline plans to serve customized on board meals.
Over in the long-haul business class, known as Magnifica, menus were revamped in collaboration with Gambero Rosso, a leading authority on Italian food and wine pairings.
New routes & connections
In addition to the resumption of the Toronto-Rome route this Sunday, Alitalia has announced that it will operate five weekly, non-stop flights from Washington (IAD) to Rome Fiumicino (FCO).
The route will connect travellers to more than 26 Italian cities and capital cities throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
Like the Toronto-Rome route, the Washington-Rome route will operate via an Airbus 330, with service starting May 2, 2019.
Additional updates include:
- Rome-Mauritius: three weekly flights through March 30, 2019
- Rome-Maldives: four weekly flights
- Milan Malpensa-Male: two weekly flights
The service on these is operated, respectfully, by Boeing 777 and Airbus 330 aircraft, and offered in three service classes: Magnifica, Premium Economy, and Economy.
All cabins have been fully renovated and offer Wi-Fi on board.
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