The airline’s latest Italian startup has just announced the first network from its second base: Bergamo, an airport serving the Milan metropolitan area.
The flights will carry passengers between the northern city and Catania, Sicily, five times a week, and to Rome/Fiumicino with up to three flights a day. The routes will start on December 2 and November 14 respectively.
This upcoming move is a surprising step for the airline, which currently operates charter flights and a number of daily flights from Forlì in the Emilia-Romagna region with a fleet of three Boeing 737-800s.
While the Forlì base has seen a drastic reduction in schedules – in fact, it does not sell any tickets from there beyond October – the airline has hired a smaller plane to run most of this operation. . As of today, AirConnect’s first ATR from Romania started operating flights on behalf of Aeroitalia, according to BoardingPass.ro, Romania’s largest aviation website.
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With this, Bergamo will remain, for now, Aeroitalia’s only base, and on two routes that will face fierce competition, each for a different reason.
The only airline to serve Milan and Rome, ITA Airways is operating around ten daily frequencies this month from its Rome/Fiumicino hub to Milan/Linate, according to Cirium’s Diio Mi application. But even that is a far cry from September 2012, when its predecessor Alitalia’s capacity between the two airports was more than double.
And that’s because at the time Alitalia also connected Fiumicino to Malpensa with about four daily frequencies; easyJet and Ryanair also took part in the connection; the British low-cost airline linked Fiumicino and Malpensa around four times a day, while the Irish airline linked Bergamo and Ciampino twice a day, with Fiumicino linking with Bergamo around five times a week.
The reason why one of Europe’s most important air links a decade ago is down more than 70% today is simple: high-speed rail. One of the most popular articles from when Alitalia shut down last year, coined by CNN, said it was what ‘killed Alitalia’, specifically citing the Milan-Rome city pair .
However, Aeroitalia will try to combat this trend by providing a more convenient frequency; three daily flights to counter the single route – each – of the Frecciarossa and of Italian from Bergamo to Rome.
Now on the other route announced by the Italian startup, it also becomes tricky due to the competition that Aeroitalia will face.
Bergamo is Ryanair’s third largest base, after London/Stansted and Dublin only, and it is the largest base in Italy for the Irish group. Specifically, Bergamo-Catania is a route where the airline dominates. It is among its top 10 markets from Bergamo in terms of capacity, and it is the only player there, with three daily operations in each direction.
Ryanair is known to be very protective of its home markets, and it’s definitely very daring of Aeroitalia, small and definitely scaleless to be cost competitive, to go straight to an important route for its competitor, instead of trying to serve elsewhere.
While they tried to categorically avoid Ryanair in its first batch of routes from Forlì, the airline is now doing the exact opposite. Whether with the high-speed train or directly against the largest low-cost carrier on the continent, Aeroitalia has definitely given itself a hard time for its next challenge.