Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alitalia was founded in 1947, in which year it carried over 10,000 passengers. The inaugural flight, made by the very first plane in the fleet, was a Fiat G-12 Alcione, piloted by Virginio Reinero between Turin and Rome. The first international flight left a year later, travelling between Milan and cities in South America.
By the 1990s, Alitalia was carrying nearly 25 million passengers annually. Today, Alitalia operates out of two hubs in Italy, at Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa airports, serving 200 destinations in 24 countries worldwide.
In November 2003 Alitalia announced that it would cut 2700 jobs over the next three years to make the airline fit for a merger with Air France and KLM. In April 2004 Alitalia acquired bankrupt regional airline Gandalf Airlines to gain additional slots at several European airports, mainly in Milan (Linate) and Paris (Charles De Gaulle).
In September 2004 the airline found itself in serious financial difficulties, with management saying it did not have enough cash to pay worker salaries past the end of that month. It announced plans to lay off 5000 employees and to split the company into two divisions, an airline and a ground services division. It also said it was reconsidering its alliance with Air France. Talks went on with unions for pay cuts and layoffs, in an attempt to keep the company out of bankruptcy and possibly liquidation.  On September 24th, the company announced that it had reached an agreement with unions allowing access to a €400 million bridging loan from the Italian government. While more money may be needed in early 2005, the airline thus seems to have avoided the threat of bankruptcy.
The Alitalia fleet consists of the following aircraft (at February 2005):
- 12 Airbus A319-100
- 11 Airbus A320-200
- 23 Airbus A321-100
- 2 Boeing 747-200
- 13 Boeing 767-300
- 10 Boeing 777-200
- 2 McDonnell Douglas MD-11
- 81 McDonnell Douglas MD-82
In September 2004 Alitalia announced plans to acquire four additional B777-200ERs, three more B767-300ERs and 12 additional EMB-170s for its Alitalia Express subsidiary. To be delivered in 2007 and 2008.
Other Facts of Interest
- To date, six Alitalia flights have been hijacked.
- To date, only one aircraft incident has been reported involving Alitalia planes: in the mid 90's in Zurich an Alitalia aircraft crashed killing all passengers of a half-filled MD-80.
- Alitalia has two important hubs: Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Rome (Italy) and Malpensa International Airport in Milan (Italy).
- The late Pope John Paul II chartered Alitalia jets on most of his international flights.
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