Airbus has made a clean sweep at ITA, the replacement airline for Alitalia that starts services on October 15. Italia Trasporto Aereo signed an agreement with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) to lease 31 Airbus narrow- and wide-bodies. It signed an MoU with Airbus for a direct order for another 28 aircraft. Alitalia-successor ITA opts for an Airbus fleet.

ITA signed an agreement with ALC to lease fifteen Airbus A220s, two A320neo’s, nine A321neo’s, and five A330-900s. They will be delivered from ALC’s order book with Airbus between Q1 next year and early 2025 and are on a long-term lease. The direct order with Airbus is, for now, a Memorandum of Understanding for another 28 aircraft, including seven A220s, eleven A320neo-family aircraft, and ten A330neo’s.

These aircraft will be delivered after ITA has completed its business plan, which sees the airline grow its leased fleet to 56 aircraft. Of these, thirteen will be long-haul jets that besides the A330neo’s also include the A350-900, plus 43 short- and medium-haul aircraft. La Corriere della Sera reports that the 25 additional leased aircraft will be sourced from five other lessors, reducing the number of lessors from twelve to six. It also says that the A220s will be both the -100 and -300 versions.  

ITA starts with 52 ex-Alitalia aircraft

ITA will start in October with a fleet of 52 former Alitalia aircraft: seventeen Airbus A319s, 27 A320s, and seven A330s. This means the new carrier will only take part of the current Alitalia fleet and only Airbus aircraft. For commonality and efficiency reasons, there is no place for the six Boeing 777. 

The “new” airline, which got the go-ahead of the European Commission in July, will be smaller.  The replacement of the A330ceos with A330-900s is smart and appears to be the only one-for-one switch. This suggests that certain key markets, like New York, will maintain daily flights.  Among the smaller aircraft, the A220 (we guess the -300) to replace the A319s is straightforward. It also reflects what we might expect from Airbus in the future since the A319neo has been something of a dud. The A320neo has no engine selected, but given the GTF on the A220, it would seem that the GTF might be favored.  

Alitalia has been operating a solitary 777-300ER to New York. This is probably also going to be dropped. Italy is a large travel market and the US airlines have had a field day eating away at Alitalia’s home market.  Similarly, Ryanair, Wizz, and easyjet have done domestic damage. Simplicity and a focus on the lowest seat cost production are crucial.  Standardization is one of the ways to get there.

It would be no surprise to see ITA acquire some A321LRs or even XLRs. It has a strong relationship with Air Lease, the lessor behind much of the 28 aircraft (A220, A320neo). The XLR allows ITA to cherry-pick the US and other major markets and develop these into twin-aisle markets.  There is talk of leasing up to 56 aircraft and Air Lease has a big position in XLRs. ITA has previously said it aims to reach 105 aircraft by 2025. 

ALC is pleased and proud

“Air Lease Corporation is pleased and proud to be the launch Lessor for ITA to supply the new airline 31 new Airbus jet aircraft, including the most modern A220 and A320/321neo family jets, as well the latest environmentally friendly widebody aircraft on long-term operating leases from ALC’s order book.  These transactions will allow ITA to operate the most technologically advanced new aircraft to cover ITA’s European and Intercontinental route network with great efficiency,” said ALC Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Házy in a media statement.

ITA’s Executive Chairman, Alfredo Altavilla (in the center of the main picture), said: “The strategic partnership with Airbus and ALC is crucial for ITA to jumpstart our Business Plan aiming at achieving our targets of a new environmental-friendly fleet with significantly lower operating and leasing costs.  I want to thank both Christian Scherer, CCO of Airbus, and Steven F. Udvar-Házy, Executive Chairman of Air Lease Corporation, for their trust in the future of our brand-new airline.” 

“ITA has done a thorough clean sheet aircraft evaluation and has chosen Airbus across all segments.  This is very gratifying and a testimony of the great value of the Airbus product range.  It sets a benchmark in driving the decarbonization and efficiency agenda.  From the start, we have been working closely with ITA, listening carefully to their requirements.  Today we are proud and grateful to be alongside ITA in building its future together. Grazie Mille!”, said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.

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