ROME // Cramer Ball, Alitalia’s chief executive, has said that his goal for the airline is “not just to be good, but to be the best in Europe”.
Mr Ball, in the role now for the past two months after previously having worked on the turnaround of other Etihad Airways partners Air Seychelles and India’s Jet Airways, has said that the airline needs to focus on increasing revenue, creating a “charged team that can go out and sell” and on cutting costs.
“We have a great opportunity, and I say to my team every day, ‘we must move quickly’. My favourite word in Alitalia is ‘Velocimente’. Quick, quick, quick.”
Mr Ball has said that the first focus for Alitalia has been to “fly where we make money”.
This has led to capacity being cut on some routes, but overall he said it has had 8 per cent growth in flights to Sardinia and Sicliy and is increasing frequency between Italy’s north and south by 12 per cent.
“Italy is ours,” he said. “We will compete with the low-cost carriers and the legacy carriers.”
It is also collaborating more closely with Etihad partner airberlin, with which it recently began codesharing on 91 routes carrying 14,000 flights per week.
In recent years, Alitalia had lost market share to low-cost carriers, and Mr Ball said it “makes more sense to work closely” with airberlin.
“We are fighting the competition. We want to do that in partnership. The corridor between Germany and Italy is one of the thickest in aviation. It makes sense for both of us to feed our networks from Germany to Italy and vice versa.”
Jonathan Wober, an analyst with the London-based Centre for Aviaton, said in a recent note that Alitalia’s passenger numbers had dropped by 1.7 per cent in 2015 to 22.9 million.
He said although Alitalia “certainly seems to be in a better place” since Etihad’s investment, it needs to be able to generate sustainable profits.
“Each year of loss that passes subliminally reconfirms the acceptability of loss-making in Alitalia’s collective psyche.”
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