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Once again, for the sixth time in the last seven years, Rome’s Fiumicino airport has excelled in Aci Europe's ranking of Europe's best airports with over 40 million passengers.  It also won the Digital Transformation Award for its commitment to digitization and the promotion of innovation, offering an airport experience of increasing quality to travellers. 

This is just the latest ace up the sleeve of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport as it is poised to become the new hub of the Lufthansa Group, following the green light from the EU to the merger between the German airline and ITA Airways. And what a dowry ITA brings with it! This is a gem of an airport that - like the airline itself - is capable of providing an elite service in Italy and beyond.

Indeed Fiumicino's success has played a significant role in Lufthansa's plans for the future merger. After the fire that destroyed Terminal 3 in 2015, the airport was restructured, upgraded, and relaunched, going on to position itself with growing regularity at the top of the list of Europe's best airports.

Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, remarked on this following the EU's approval. “Rome is ideally placed to become the company's sixth, new hub: a thousand kilometres south of Frankfurt and 700 kilometres further down than our southernmost hub, which is Zurich.” Coordinates that make the Roman airport “ideal for all connections that look to the south of the world, particularly to Latin America and Africa, but also to the USA.”

Lufthansa’s CEO also stressed that Fiumicino is “a five-star airport: flying here was certainly one of the positive aspects of this operation (...) Fiumicino has a premium terminal with attractive operating costs and the possibility of economies of scale. Given Rome’s nature as a tourist destination, this will increase the offer of seats for high-end customers travelling in Business and First class.”  Now all Leonardo da Vinci has to do, is to set out on a new, thrilling path of growth.

Mariella CattaneoMariella Cattaneo
Journalist

Published in Editorial

The French railway giant SNCF Voyageurs is due to debut in Italy in 2026, becoming a third high-speed rail player in Italy alongside Trenitalia and Italo.

The French rail company is aiming for a 15% market share by 2030

The French company - already present in nine European countries apart from France and with one third of international passengers - has applied for a 15-year agreement with RFI which is part of the Italian state railways group.  Plans are for the Turin-Naples and Turin-Venice routes, with the new services to be operated by the Italian subsidiary SNCF Voyages Italia with the aim of doubling the number of passengers in Europe over the next ten years, in particular on the Italian market, and achieving a 15% market share by 2030.

Serving 10 Italian cities for now

SNCF Voyageurs will debut with up to 13 daily round trips on two routes: 9 round trips between Turin, Milan, Rome and Naples, and four round trips between Turin and Venice. The following cities will be served: Turin, Milan, Brescia, Verona, Padua, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. The company confirms that it is open to future extension to other destinations, including Southern Italy, as soon as the infrastructure permits.

Latest-generation double-decker trains 

The 15 TGVM trainsets, which will be technically adapted to the Italian infrastructure, will come from a fleet of trains produced in 2022. In addition, a further 15 latest-generation double-decker trains will run on the Italian network. SNCF has been present in Italy since 1995 with the Artesia service, and since 2011 with the cross-border TGV Inoui service, which operates daily between Milan, Turin and Paris.

“There will be one more competitor, but we are ready”  

“We are already ready,- says Luigi Corradi, CEO and general manager of Trenitalia. -Our service is recognized as excellent. We also have a train that runs between Milan and Paris and the French themselves recognize the real difference in the service we offer on the Frecciarossa. Clearly there will be one more competitor, but we are ready.”  As for possible repercussions on fare levels: “Competition in general helps customers to have different choices. I think our fares are already competitive, especially if we look at value for money.”

“Healthy competition has led to lower prices”

Fabrizio Bona, Italo's commercial director said; “It is still too early to make forecasts. For certain, the high-speed market in Italy today is managed intelligently by the two parties with very high quality and services. Healthy competition has led to lower prices and higher service levels. In the future, we will see.” 

Published in Transportation

After more than seven months of intense negotiations, the EU has officially given its blessing to the ITA Airways-Lufthansa merger.

There were extensive concessions by both parties

As expected the green light came in the wake of extensive concessions by both parties which protects competition at Milan Linate airport, on short-haul routes between Italy and Central Europe, and on long-haul routes between Rome Fiumicino and North America by giving space to competitors.

Lufthansa’s initial 41% will rise to 100% by 2033 
 
The German Lufthansa Group, under its chairman Carsten Spohr, will therefore acquire a 41% stake in the Italian airline through a capital increase of €325 million, to then rise in a second stage, by 2033, to 100% of the newco, for a total investment of €829 million.

Protecting passengers’ rights

"We assessed the operation very carefully," said Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition. "We had to makes sure passengers did not end up paying more, or with fewer and lower quality air transport services on certain routes in and out of Italy. The remedy package proposed by Lufthansa and the Italian Ministry for Economy and Finance fully addresses our concerns, ensuring that a sufficient level of competitive pressure remains on all relevant routes."

ITA will leave Sky Team for Star Alliance

The two parties now have four months to implemente the remedies to guarantee competition, and the next steps are the capital increase, the statutory changes, the appointment of a new board of directors (three members, including a chairman for the Italian Ministry for Economy and Finance, and two for Lufthansa which will appoint the CEO) and the start of the relaunch plan. ITA will change alliance from SkyTeam to Star Alliance and there will be a request for the Italians to enter the A++ transatlantic joint venture between Lufthansa, United Airlines and Air Canada.

“We will be able to offer customers a significantly wider choice”

"The approval from Brussels is great news for ITA Airways and Lufthansa and especially for passengers flying to and from Italy. We look forward to welcoming ITA and its excellent staff as a new member of our airline family. The decision is also a clear signal that air traffic in Europe can successfully assert itself globally,- said Carsten Spohr. -We will be able to offer customers a significantly wider choice of connections and destinations, and thanks to Rome’s 5-star hub we will expand our premium offer, with better connections to future strategic markets south of the Equator. Despite the many concessions, the investment in ITA Airways strengthens the Lufthansa Group's position as a global player. We will make ITA Airways a strong and successful part of the Group, securing its future as an international airline and a brand with a strong identity. ITA Airways will support us in further expanding our position as the number one airline in Europe."

Published in Transportation

With rooms, a real garden and a cafeteria, Trenitalia's renovated FrecciaLounge inside Milan's Central Station has opened.

“More space for customers”

An investment that the company's CEO and general manager, Luigi Corradi, describes as “relative, in relation to the benefits that passengers can now enjoy. The space has been refurbished, even moving our staff offices to another area of the station, to provide more space for customers.” 

Naples will be the next station to get a new lounge

Located on the station's platform level, the lounge is reserved for CartaFreccia Oro and Platino holders and anyone who purchases single access when travelling on board Frecciarossa trains. "After Rome, which was the first step in this series of renovations, we completed the project in Milan. The objective was not only to make it more beautiful but to offer a high quality and comfortable service, both for passengers who drop in for ten minutes and for those who need to stay longer or have to work.” The renovation process will continue “in Naples towards the end of 2024, and then with the other lounges on the high-speed network.”

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Movies, sport, news and a newsstand section 

The FrecciaLounge has a total of 90 seats plus three additional historic benches. The areas have a flexible configuration, offering a variety of solutions that can be modulated on the basis of customer requirements, while respecting the highest standards of privacy. The architecture uses fully sustainable decorative plant elements and monumental forms, and services range from quality catering which differs according to the access times, Wifi and access to digital information on the timetable. In addition, from 1 July it will be possible to surf the new FRECCIAPlay to watch movies, sport, tourist content, news and much more, as well as being able to consult the newsstand section with newspapers, magazines and the digital edition of the La Freccia magazine.

A new Frecciapoint information counter

A further innovation for Milano Centrale is the debut of the new FrecciaPoint - on the platform level, outside the FrecciaLounge – a counter where travellers can make ticket changes, receive information and make service requests.

Published in Transportation

It’s G7 time. It’s Puglia time, with the Greats of the Earth gathered at Borgo Egnazia, the 5-star resort in Savelletri di Fasano, between Bari and Brindisi. And this marks a landmark occasion for the Italian region renowned for its rising international appeal.

So, from 13 to 15 June as Puglia welcomes heads of state, their entourages, security teams, journalists from all over the world, and an influx of nearly 20,000 people, it becones a global showcase.  The immediate economic and reputational benefits are clear, but the long-term advantages promise to be even more significant.

A staggering 1,300 journalists will broadcast Puglia’s appeal to a worldwide audience, offering unparalleled exposure. "This will be the real promotion," said Francesco Caizzi, president of Federalberghi Puglia, in an interview with the Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. 

Caizzi emphasized that the media spotlight will “help propel Puglia’s international tourism growth for the next five to ten years. Already, Puglia has seen a significant rise in foreign tourists, with their share increasing from 11% to 37% in 2023.”   Delegations have been exploring Puglia for days, and “word of mouth continues to be a crucial driver of international tourism to the region.”   

Mariella Cattaneo

Journalist

Published in Editorial

Ita Airways is looking with great interest at the Arabian Peninsula market with new flights introduced between Rome Fiumicino and Riyadh.

The Riyadh flights are ITA’s debut in the Arabian Peninsula

The route will be operated five weekly frequencies (daily except Tuesdays and Saturdays) with an Airbus A321neo, the first narrowbody aircraft configured with three separate cabins: Business Class (12 seats), Premium Economy (12 seats) and Economy (141 seats, 12 of which are dedicated to Comfort Economy). The flights from Riyadh also represents ITA's debut in connections to the Arabian Peninsula, a market from which new flights to Rome from Kuwait City (1 July) and Jeddah (1 August) will also soon be launched.

“The new flights will intensify trade”

“Saudi Arabia is a rapidly expanding and strategic market for ITA Airways, especially for business traffic,- said Emiliana Limosani, chief commercial officer of ITA and CEO of Volare. “This new flight marks a significant milestone for our company and will intensify trade between the Arabian Peninsula and Italy. Our commitment to the Middle Eastern region will continue with the introduction of new direct flights from Kuwait City and Jeddah in July and August”.

“Excellent prospects for both the leisure and business markets”

"Saudi Arabia is a booming market,- added Federico Scriboni, aviation business development director of Aeroporti di Roma. -With around 200,000 passengers carried in 2023 Fiumicino has quadrupled the traffic volumes of 2019, a growth trend confirmed in the first four months of 2024, which was up +33% compared to the same period last year. The launch of ITA Airways‘ new Riyadh flight shows the growing relevance of a market with excellent prospects for further development in terms of both the leisure and business markets.”

Both airlines have extended their codeshare agreement

ITA Airways and Saudia have extended their codeshare agreement and the partnership to their respective loyalty programmes, Volare and AlFursan. The agreement will provide more benefits and travel options, as well as a wider network of connections for passengers travelling between Italy and Saudi Arabia, as well as to other destinations within their respective networks.

Connections in Rome to a total 36 destinations 

Passengers flying with Saudia to Italy can reach 12 domestic destinations (Venice, Bologna, Florence, Lamezia Terme, Palermo, Catania, Turin, Naples, Bari, Reggio Calabria, Genoa and Brindisi), 15 international destinations (Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt, Cairo, Geneva, Brussels, Madrid, Sofia, Tirana, Nice, Munich, Barcelona, Malta and London City) and 9 intercontinental (including Miami, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo) via ITA flights from Rome Fiumicino.

Passenger benefits on both carriers 

Passengers on the two carriers will also benefit from a number of privileges, including booking a single ticket for itineraries with connecting flights, baggage check-in to the final destination, as well as earning and redeeming points for upgrades and other frequent flyer benefits, in addition to existing benefits available to SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members. Exclusive services include priority check-in and boarding, preferential baggage drop-off counters and additional baggage allowances.

Published in Transportation

American Airlines makes its Naples debut with fights from Philadelphia International Airport, the airline's main transatlantic hub.

American Airlines’ first-ever connection between the US and Southern Italy

The new direct flight between Naples and Philadelphia started operating on a daily basis on 7 June and will continue throughout the summer until October 2024. “This is American Airlines’ first-ever connection between the United States and Southern Italy,- said José Freig, vice president international operations of the US carrier.  - The introduction of the new direct flight between Philadelphia and Naples responds to the growing demand for services between the United States and Southern Italy, and we are excited to offer our passengers more choices for exploring the Italian coast and beyond. We are also confident that this new connection will further boost the economic and cultural ties between our two nations.” 

“Naples Airport counts 116 destinations”

“This new direct flight further boosts the intercontinental segment and is part of the quality offer of Naples Airport, which this year counts 116 destinations, mainly international, of which 20 are hubs,- said Roberto Barbieri, CEO of the airport’s management company Gesac. -It is a prestigious connection both in terms of inbound, with high-spending tourism arriving in our region, and outbound, because it brings Campania and Southern Italy closer to the rest of the world through the company's Philadelphia hub, from which it is possible to reach over 85 destinations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.”



The Boeing 787-8 aircraft has Business Class and Premium Economy cabins


On the new route the star-studded airline uses Boeing 787-8 aircraft offering passengers a complete high-end experience that includes Business Class and Premium Economy seats, state-of-the-art interiors, high-speed wi-fi, and a free onboard entertainment system with 1,500 choices that is regularly updated and can be enjoyed from all seats.

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Published in Transportation

Sata Azores Airlines' route to Ponta Delgada made its Milan Malpensa debut on 5 June.

“The same aircraft and flight number connect Boston to Milan”

Aldo Schmid, head of aviation marketing, negotiations & traffic rights at SEA Aeroporti, defined the debut as “special” for several reasons. “Not only do we have a new scheduled carrier operating from our airport, but it is the only airline connecting the Azores archipelago with continental Europe (Iberian Peninsula aside of course), and it is directed to a destination that is trendy and appreciated by travellers, as shown by the passenger numbers of the past years. These have been in the region of 16-17,000 which is an excellent starting point to make this direct flight profitable. It is also special as, with the same aircraft and flight number, it connects Boston to Milan. In short, a transatlantic flight to all intents and purposes, which is added to the network from Malpensa to the United States, with a technical stopover in the Azores.” 

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Starting with two weekly Airbus A321neo flights

This means that passengers will have the opportunity to make a stopover in Ponta Delgada, visit the Azores, and then continue on to Boston or vice versa. "We are starting with two weekly flights between Milan and the island of São Miguel, but we are already studying the possibility of offering daily frequencies. Flights operated with an Airbus A321neo are on Wednesdays and Fridays up to next 27 September,” adds José Roque, chief financial officer of Sata Azores Airlines.

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Sata Azores Airlines is represented by Aviareps Italia

The company's plans for the Italian market are clear, as Teresa Gonçalves, the company's CEO, confirms: “We have been studying the connection between Ponta Delgada and Milan for some time. Our expectations for this route are very high, both in terms of forecasts and the flow of bookings that we already have in our system. Azores Airlines (represented by Aviareps Italia) has increased its offer to new destinations, both nationally and internationally, and is constantly growing. Milan is a very significant market for us, with great potential for growth. We believe that this route will not only provide additional options for our passengers residing in the Azores, but also new possibilities for connecting air traffic, which has been constantly using Azores Airlines flights to reach North America and Europe.” 

  



“Milan Malpensa is operating 13% more international flights this summer”


For Milan Malpensa the new route arrives at a positive time for the airport: “Since the beginning of this year we have posted a 12% increase in passengers over 2023, when we surpassed the passenger record of the pre-Covid period,- points out Schmid, -and for the summer season the capacity planned for international flights is 13% higher than last year, with a double-digit number also for long-haul flights.”  

Published in Transportation

As usual the two long-haul source markets driving up the numbers for European tourism are the United States and Canada. This year the Old Continent is projected to reach record levels in terms of tourist spending, at least according to the recent European Travel Commission report that paints the picture of a robust recovery. That so far has not been challenged by the difficult international geopolitical context.

With the USA and Canada continuing to dominate the scene, the trend in Italy is fully confirmed by that of the US, Canadian and Italian airlines. Practically all the carriers operating transatlantic flights have invested in growth, either in terms of new routes, boosting the number of frequencies, or stretching the operational season by starting in early spring and ending in late autumn.

There are also positive signs for arrivals from Latin America, and Brazil in particular. And while the APAC region is improving compared to the last quarter, the recovery remains modest and uneven, and although Chinese travellers are starting to return to Europe, recovery from Japan is still slow.

Reinforcing this desire for Europe are major events like the Olympic Games in Paris and the UEFA Euro 2024 European Football Championship in Germany. In the first case it is estimated that domestic and international visitors will generate a growth in inbound expenditure of +13% for Paris and +24% in France as a whole, compared to 2019.

A positive picture that will be a breath of fresh air for Europe’s travel and tourism industry, which were hit hard by the pandemic years and the ongoing economic instability. And, there are still clouds on the horizon, with the rumblings from Ukraine to Israel.

Mariella CattaneoMariella Cattaneo
Journalist

Published in Editorial

Milan Linate is officially a “full biometric” airport with the inauguration of the FaceBoarding service.

ITA Airways was one of the first to join 

This service allows passengers who wish to do so to access security controls and proceed to boarding using a biometric facial recognition system. This is the first airport in Europe to introduce the official use of biometrics for Faceboarding. The service - witnessed by the mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala - is available to all airlines that integrate their check-in and boarding systems with FaceBoarding: Ita Airways and SAS were the first two carriers to join.

Milano Linate Armando Brunini ad Sea AeroportiSea Aeroporti’s CEO Armando Brunini

“FaceBoarding aims to further enhance the passenger experience”

"This technology uses biometrics to replace the traditional boarding pass and ID card during transit through security and at gate entry. The main objective is twofold: to improve the overall security of the process and to offer a smoother and more comfortable experience to passengers,- said Sea Aeroporti’s CEO Armando Brunini. -In the last year and a half this airport has been the protagonist of three significant innovation and technology grafts: on Smart security, reducing transit times and simplifying passenger routes; then Metro 4, a true game changer of which the airport is a big beneficiary; and finally today with FaceBoarding, a further investment that aims to further enhance the passenger experience."

Milano Linate faceboarding

Reducing the time required for ID checks 

Passengers who have previously registered via kiosks in the airport or directly from their mobile devices (the mobile app will be available from June), will thus reduce the time required for ID checks while increasing security and guaranteeing the protection of passenger data. In fact, it will no longer be necessary to show documents and/or boarding pass at the pre-security turnstiles and boarding gates, which become self-service.

Sea's partners in the project are Thales and Dormakaba which developed the biometric processing system and the gates respectively. "Through the adoption of these new technologies,- noted Mayor Sala. -Milan fully embraces its role as a global player. Our airports represent the starting point of this bold vision, acting as a bridge between the city and the world.” 

Published in Transportation
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