After seven decades in the skies, it’s the end for Alitalia

Alitalia, Italy’s first flag carrier and largest airline, created in 1946, shut down on Friday and the new airline ITA, born out of the ashes of long-struggling Alitalia, intends to commence operations. [Photo: AFP]
After more than seven decades in the skies, Alitalia will make its final voyage on Thursday with a late evening flight to Rome from Cagliari in Sardinia.

When the plane touches down a little after 11pm, Italy’s national airline will have completed its 74-year run. The carrier is to be replaced by the slimmed-down ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo), which will employ 2,800 workers compared to Alitalia’s 11,000.

“Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I wanted to thank you for having accompanied us for these 74 years,” said a visibly emotional Alitalia air steward over the announcer as passengers at Rome’s Fiumicino airport prepared to board a midday flight on the final day of the company’s operation.

“Today is our last Alitalia flight, and from the bottom of our hearts, thanks for flying with us and putting your trust in us.”

Founded in 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali, but known popularly as Alitalia (a portmanteau of ‘Italy’ and ‘wings’), Italy’s former national airline flourished in Europe’s post-war boom.

The company continued to grow in the 70’s, expanding its range of aircraft, and was the first European airline to have a fleet made up entirely of jet planes.

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