AZ 1586, Alitalia’s last flight, is on October 14

Thursday, October 14, will bring to a close the history of Italy’s national airline that has lasted over 70 years. Flight AZ1586, coming from Cagliari, will land in Rome Fiumicino at 23:00, in its main hub, a symbolic place, and in the city where it was founded on September 16, 1946.

Since 1946, Alitalia has become increasingly important on the Italian scene, official sponsor of the Rome Olympics in 1960, the first European airline to have only jet aircraft in its fleet, and since 1964, it has accompanied the Pope on his international trips (the last trip with the Pope on board was on September 12).

After the 1970s, a slow and inexorable decline began, and Alitalia no longer seemed able to rise to the challenges imposed by the market. The first sign of an evident crisis occurred in 1994, when the managing director, Roberto Schisano, warned that Alitalia had only 500 days left to survive economically.

In July 2001, Alitalia closed a very important agreement, entering the Skyteam alliance, but due to the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers on September 11 and the consequent crisis in world air transport, Alitalia, already very weak, closed important intercontinental destinations. From here onwards, Alitalia is unable to recover and, after 3 changes at the top, in 2007 the privatization is considered.

After 2015, Alitalia continued to record losses, up from two million a day, and in 2017, a new rescue operation is attempted, which included a recapitalization and an agreement with the unions, rejected by a referendum in April 2017. On May 2, Alitalia Sai is put into receivership, and the sale of the company started with Delta, Atlantia, Lufthansa, but nothing happened.

In 2020, the pandemic gives the coup de grace to the moribund Alitalia, which, despite being essential for repatriations and the transport of medical equipment, continued to lose money. The new government tries to make Alitalia public again with the “Cura Italia” decree, and the Newco ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo) is born. Despite the plans to launch the company in spring 2021, the EU asks for discontinuity with the previous Alitalia in receivership, and the timeframe is lengthened, postponing many times until October 15, 2021.

Alitalia, from next week, will become only a memory, for some bitter, for others sweet, but certainly an indelible memory in the history of a country, Italy, which loses an icon, a symbol of Italianness in its own country and the world.


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