Alitalia has been through a really tough time the past year. They have been struggling financially, and went bankrupt back over the summer. With such a precarious situation, you would expect an airline to try to cut back on unprofitable routes and downsize right? Well, it seems Alitalia has a different idea. Alitalia launches Johannesburg, Nairobi flights next year, as somehow the airline musters up the money to do so.


New (Sort of) Flights

The flights are service resumptions, as the airline used to fly these routes early in the last decade. Since then, much has changed in the world. With newer, and more fuel efficient aircraft, the airline might be able to turn a profit on these routes. The flight to Johannesburg will be flown 4xWeekly, and will start on April 8, 2018. The airline will the route with an A330-200. Schedule is as follows:

AZ848 Rome to Johannesburg departing 10:10PM arriving 8:20AM (+1 day)

AZ849 Johannesburg to Rome departing 9:00PM arriving 7:25AM (+1 day)

Alitalia A330

Alitalia A330

The flight to Nairobi will begin earlier, starting on March 28, 2018. Nairobi will be served 4xWeekly as well, and also flown on an A330-200. The schedule is as follows:

AZ846 Rome to Nairobi departing 2:00PM arriving 10:10PM

AZ847 Nairobi to Rome departing 12:35AM arriving 7:10AM

Alitalia A330

Alitalia A330

Why Jo’burg and Nairobi?

I am still wrapping my head around the timing of launching these routes. I can see Nairobi being a reasonable destination, due to their SkyTeam partner Kenya Airways. This could provide them with connections to Africa. But Johannesburg seems really odd. The airline will fly the route with an A330, their smaller long haul aircraft. The plane will spend an entire day in South Africa before it takes off back to Italy. That’s a lot of time spent paying the airport, and having the aircraft out of service. That sounds really expensive to me. They also don’t have a major connecting parter there, so I am unsure how much the airline will actually turn a profit. Therefore I don’t see any reason for the airline to launch flights to South Africa. Maybe they are trying to compete with Austrian Airlines, which are also launching flights to South Africa.

Alitalia A319

Alitalia A319

Landing Thoughts:

As much as I am sad by Alitalia’s struggles, these route launches make me think they are continuing to sink themselves. Although Kenya Airways is not in a good financial place, they can provide for some connecting traffic. Johannesburg will (likely) bleed money. But, when the money keeps flowing from the government, who cares? I don’t see Delta blasting the Italian government and Alitalia for these constant bailouts. Hypocrisy everywhere, sad. Hopefully Alitalia will be able to come back from the brink of disappearing and reshape itself to be more profitable. Only time will tell, however.


What do you think? Are you planning on taking Alitalia’s flights to South Africa or Kenya? Do you think it’s reasonable for them to launch them now? Let us know!


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H/T: One Mile at a Time


Images from Wikimedia