Blue Panorama goes bankrupt, exposing the challenges facing small Italian airlines


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Here’s a challenge for you, dear reader: name a current Italian airline that is not ITA.

Well, unless you are really passionate about Italian aviation, you probably won’t know any. And it is not for nothing; what remains of Italian aviation after the pandemic that wiped out the industry is not really much.

This week, Blue Panorama (which also operates as Luke Air), owned by Gruppo UVET, Italy’s largest travel agency network, informed the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) that ‘it was temporarily suspending its commercial activities.

The measure was first announced by a number of local unions, then confirmed by ENAC in a press release on its home page. The suspension, the regulator said, was requested by the airline itself.

On October 22, according to ENAC, a procedure was opened to suspend the COA of Blue Panorama – acronym in Italian for Certificate of Air Operator – and its air transport operating license, “correlated with the request for clarification concerning the shortcomings of a financial nature observed in the company ”.

The ENAC is thus suspending the two licenses of the airline.

According to the site Viaggi agency, specializing in Italian tourism, Blue Panorama has also filed for bankruptcy in the Milan court, considering “preserving the assets and continuity of the company”.

Blue Panorama also attributes the suspension to the lack of liquidity support from the Italian government. Earlier in the pandemic, the Italian state separated € 130m for the three smaller private airlines – Air Dolomiti, Blue Panorama and Neos – but, so far, the money has not been transferred to carriers.

The airline was slowly switching to the Luke Air brand – with two Airbus A330s already in the new colors – but, since the start of the pandemic, its size was much smaller; this summer it barely worked.

Of the twelve aircraft assigned to the Blue Panorama fleet by Planespotters.net – including two A330-200s, a Boeing 737-300, a 737-400 and eight 737-800s – only three were in service last week; one A330 and two 737-800s, according to data recorded by FlightRadar24.

Flights of the Blue Panorama fleet last week.

And among these, only the A330 9H-RTU operated flights with the BV code. The others, 9H-CRI and 9H-GFP, operated tourist flights from Poland with the code AMQ, which is assigned to the local charter operator AMC Aviation.

Although this case may seem isolated, it shows a trend within the Italian aviation industry: the market is increasingly converging towards a field of large players.

This week we learned that Tayaran Jet, who is based in Bulgaria but is a de facto The Italian airline, along with Sicilian investors, was abandoning its territorial continuity (territorial continuity) contract by which it receives subsidies for the links connecting Trapani, in Sicily, to Ancona, Perugia and Trieste, on the mainland.

The airline blames the lack of passengers for the dropout almost two years earlier.

This effectively means that the airline will no longer operate scheduled flights; Tayaran Jet tried several routes from Sicily this summer with its fleet of two 737-300s, neither of which succeeded.

One of Tayaran Jet’s 737-300s. Photo: Tayaran Jet

“Flying a Boeing 737-300, except August, with a handful of passengers, is a mess for everyone,” said Gianfranco Cincotta, country manager of Tayaran Jet for Italy , in a Facebook post.

“The money of the Italian State and of the European Union is burned without return, neither for the Territory, nor for the airline company, but only for the benefit of the airport [management] companies. Like that, it can’t go on. After the effects of the pandemic, the vsontinuità territorial destinations, chosen at a time pre-COVID, can no longer be supported economically ”.

EGO Airways is another struggling small Italian carrier. The airline, which started its flights this year with a single Embraer 190, planned to start with two such planes, but the first, I-EGOA, is currently under maintenance in Naples, while the second does has still not arrived.

The only flights the airline currently operates, from Forlì to Catania and Palermo, are actually sold and operated by Lumiwings.

EGO is planning – and by the way selling flights – with its own plane from December 1, connecting Forlì and Parma with a number of other cities in Italy.

EGO Airways network expected in December.

The other small carriers in Italy are Air Dolomiti, which belongs to the Lufthansa group and therefore enjoys fairly decent support; Neos, which is a large charter operator; Fly LeOne, which started a month ago from Pescara with a single Beech B1900; and Sky Alps, which is the sole operator of Bolzano airport, started its flights this year with a Q400.

The weaker winter season will likely be another challenge for these airlines.

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