Some two months since launching services as the successor to Alitalia, ITA Airways has been steadily announcing codeshare agreements with partner airlines. The latest is with Kenya Airways, which offers new opportunities to African travelers. ITA Airways expands its codeshare network into Africa.

According to the deal, travelers will be able to connect on the Kenya Airways’ network to ITA Airways network across Europe. Customers flying from Nairobi with Kenya Airways will be able to connect to thirteen destinations in Italy: Brindisi, Bologna, Bari, Catania, Genoa, Lamezia Terme, Napoli, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Torino, Trieste, Venice, and Verona. Plus to ITA’s three European gateway destinations: Amsterdam, Paris, and London.

Chief Commercial and Customer Officer at Kenya Airways, Julius Thairu, told AirInsight that the partnership will improve its presence and build on its strong customer base across the continent. “Partnering with ITA Airways represents yet another major step on our growth trajectory, and we hope to deliver more commitments like this to our customers in the very near future.”

Kenya first African partner for ITA

Kenya Airways is the first carrier in sub-Saharan Africa to partner with the newly established Italian flag carrier airline. Kenya Airways seems to have risen from the threat of bankruptcy to be one of the leading carriers in Africa. Since its rebirth, it has inked many codeshare pacts with mega European and American carriers which have placed it in a vantage position to reap abundantly and remain afloat in the face of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

In October, British Airways announced a brand new codeshare with Kenya Airways, in which the Oneworld carrier plans to further link London Heathrow to destinations across the African continent through Nairobi. Currently, BA operates four weekly flights to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport — located in the Kenyan capital. They are operated by Boeing 777-200s, scheduled on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

From Nairobi, passengers of British Airways can then connect onwards to twenty different destinations in Central and East Africa, including Addis Ababa, Douala, CM; Entebbe,  Lusaka, ZM, and Mombasa, among several other destinations.

Just recently, South African Airways and Kenya Airways tied a bond with a strategic partnership that would lead to co-starting a pan African airline group by 2023. It is expected that the partnership will also improve the financial viability of the two airlines. Customers will also benefit from more competitive price offerings for both passenger and cargo segments.

Codeshare agreements with six other airlines

On its part, ITA Airways joined SkyTeam at the end of October, two weeks after launching services. Since then, it has confirmed codeshare agreements with major SkyTeam partners Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM. The one with Air France-KLM, which became effective early December, opens up twelve destinations in Italy and Southern Europe to the French-Dutch airline, while the Italian carrier benefits from onward connections elsewhere in Europe. The codeshare with Delta has become effective on December 22. ITA’s AZ code will be placed on Delta flights to 92 destinations and Delta’s code on 33 ITA flights.

End October, Air Malta signed a codeshare with its neighbor airline, in November followed by Air Serbia. Since December 14, ITA is codesharing with Etihad Airways on flights between Abu Dhabi and Rome, and Milan. The agreement is a nice twist of the tail for Etihad, which in 2014 became a shareholder in Alitalia with a 49 percent stake for €560 million but withdraw its support on heavy losses in 2017.  

ITA’s initial network spans 44 destinations, 59 routes, and 191 flights in total. With bases in Rome’s Fiumicino and Milan’s Linate airports, it will offer 24 domestic and 56 international options to start, increasing in 2022 to 58 destinations and 74 routes. By 2025, plans are to expand to 74 destinations and 89 total routes.

Artist impression of ITA’s Airbus A220s, A320neo’s, and A330-900s it has on order with Airbus. (Airbus)

During its launch, ITA unveiled its new sky blue livery with green, red, and white stripes – a nod to the colors of the Italian flag – on the aircraft’s tail and engines. The first Airbus A320ceo with the new livery rolled out of the paint shop on December 23 (main picture). As it ramps up service, ITA will initially operate a fleet of 52 aircraft, a number expected to increase next year to 78 aircraft, including thirteen widebodies, in 2022.

On December 1, ITA Airways confirmed its order with Airbus for 28 aircraft that was announced as a Memorandum of Understanding on September 30. The airline will receive seven A220s, eleven A320neo’s, and ten A330-900s from the airframer while taking another fifteen A220s, two A320neo’s, nine A321neo’s, and five A330-900s on lease from Air Lease Corporation from 2025. ITA reportedly also has secured lease contracts with an unspecified lessor for four A350-900s.  

(Additional reporting by Richard Schuurman)

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