Italian airline ITA Airways continues to expand its fleet. The carrier has signed an agreement with AerCap for the lease of ten Airbus A320neo’s and two A330neo’s on long-term contracts. Last week, the first Airbus A350-900 in the striking blue livery emerged from the paint shop. ITA Airways sources additional aircraft from AerCap

 says that delivery of the twelve aircraft is scheduled from next year through 2024. “These aircraft will enable ITA Airways to expand its network, whilst advancing its commitment to maintaining an environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient fleet”, AerCap’s Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Anderson, is quoted in a media statement. ITA’s Chief Technology Officer, Francesco Pressice, adds that “the integration of these new aircraft is perfectly in line with the Company’s fleet plan. 

ITA Airways has now sourced numerous aircraft as it starts the replacement of older aircraft that it took over from its predecessor Alitalia, just ahead of its October 2021 launch. In December, it confirmed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for 28 aircraft, including seven A220-300s, eleven A320neo’s, and ten A330neo’s.

Ahead of its first services, ITA signed a lease agreement with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) in September for 31 Airbus aircraft from the lessor’s backlog with Airbus: fifteen A220-300s, two A320neo’s, nine A321neo’s, and five A330-900s.

Eight A350s are identified for ITA

ITA will lease at least eight A350-900s that it has been able to source from various lessors under competitive terms. The first of them, MSN270, has been painted at the Airbus factory in Toulouse. The aircraft was originally scheduled for delivery to Hong Kong Airlines but was later canceled. The same applies to MSN283, also scheduled for Hong Kong Airlines. MSN285 is owned by ALAFCO and was to be leased to Hainan Airlines, as were MSN308, MSN323, and MSN338. Hainan was also a scheduled customer for MSN351 and MSN355, owned by CIT Leasing.

The future of ITA Airways and the partial privatization were discussed on the sidelines of the Airlines 4 Europe Aviation Summit in Brussels on March 31. In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr repeated that investing in an Italian carrier would make sense for Lufthansa, as Italy is the second largest foreign market next to the US. He compared the planned investment with that in SWISS and Brussels Airlines, both restructured successors to Swissair and Sabena. The same goes for ITA, which is smaller and leaner than Alitalia.

Lufthansa and shipping company MSC are still busy with due diligence of ITA’s financial statements. The outcome of this will decide if the two will make an offer to invest in the airline. A combination of Delta Airlines and Air France-KLM is also interested, reported La Repubblica, but both airlines have denied this. Indigo Partners is reportedly a third candidate. The Italian government will likely decide on the preferred partner for ITA Airways in June.

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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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