Lufthansa Launches Italian Airline Brand
Lufthansa today said it plans to launch Lufthansa Italia, a new Italian airline brand that would use a fleet of Airbus A319 aircraft to serve such European destinations as Paris and Barcelona from Milan as soon as February 2009.
The announcement comes amid an ongoing bid for a stake in the Italian carrier Alitalia, in which Lufthansa and Air France are the chief rivals. Italian consortium CAI last week finalized a deal to purchase the assets of the long-suffering Italian flag carrier for more than €1 billion in cash and assumed debt, with plans to relaunch the airline next month and the potential for one of those foreign carriers as a partner.
A Lufthansa spokesperson today said the launch of Lufthansa Italia is "completely separate from anything that might take place with Alitalia. It's the start of a new Italian brand with an Italian operating certificate," a spokesperson said.
Lufthansa said the new brand would serve Barcelona and Paris beginning Feb. 2, 2009, with service to Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest and Madrid following within a month. The carrier also said it expects to add London and Lisbon to the network "with the start of the 2009 summer flight schedules at the end of March."
Lufthansa said it would outfit the A319 fleet with 138 seats configured into two classes and plans to sell the tickets through "Lufthansa's usual distribution channels."
"Lufthansa Italia will position us in an important market that is characterized by strong demand and holds opportunities for buoyant growth in the future," said Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber in a statement today. "We will be offering our Italian customers an extensive route network from northern Italy to destinations throughout Europe."