Alitalia on Thursday unveiled a new look for its planes in a revamp initiated under the partnership with Etihad Airways that saved the Italian carrier from bankruptcy.
The green band that has adorned the fuselage of Alitalia jets for 46 years has been dropped along with the predominately green colour scheme in cabin interiors.
The tailfin retains the red, white and green of the Italian flag but has been made bolder and more distinctive with the addition of black lines through the red.
Greys and reds now dominate inside the plane with tan and brown leather touches in economy and full leather seats in business class that have been designed by Italy’s Poltrona Frau.
Wi-Fi internet access throughout planes, new menus and entertainment packages and Etihad-style on-demand dining in business class are also part of the makeover.
CEO Silvano Cassano said the strategy was to reposition the airline as representing the best of Italy in terms of style and hospitality and the high service standards set by Etihad.
“Alitalia wants to be a premium airline,” Cassano told reporters in a hanger at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, where the first redesigned Airbus A330-200 was unveiled.
The plane, named Artemisia Gentileschi after a 17th Century Italian artist, will make its first flight from Rome to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub on Friday.
James Hogan, the Australian CEO of Etihad, said Alitalia had benefited from 1.76 billion euros of investment since Etihad acquired a 49 percent stake at the end of last year.
“Alitalia has huge potential,” he said. “It is a legendary brand of aviation but one which has suffered from a lack of direction over many years.”
Hogan said 1,000 Alitalia staff had already been for training in Abu Dhabi with the aim of fostering “a performance culture in which promotion and recognition are based on performance not on who you know.”
That was a pointed reference to the airline’s past reputation as a bastion of nepotism and cronyism that contributed to the high costs which brought it to its knees.
Cassano said the new Alitalia would be operated on strictly commercial lines, free from political interference.
“As CEO my obligation is to do what is in the interest of shareholder and the government and trade unions are not shareholders. We are a new aggressive company. That means no alibis, we don’t give anything away.”
Italian Prime Minister hailed Thursday’s announcement as the start of a new era for the company and a symbol of the country’s openness to inward investment.
“Fasten your seatbelts, because we are really taking off,” Renzi said.