Italy’s national carrier, Alitalia, once again will be dropping its Rome-Beijing service, about 19 months since it resurrected the route back in August, 2016.

The route will be cut from March 25, 2018 onwards, though ticket sales are available up until this point.

According to sources from Alitalia contacted by Business Traveller, the decision to cut the route is the result of a drop in profitability due to a lack of optimal time slots at Beijing Capital International Airport.

“The decision to freeze ticket sales for the Rome-Beijing route starting from next 2018 summer flight schedule is due to the impossibility to obtain better slots from the Chinese competent authorities, despite Alitalia’s repeated and pressing requests,” said the source.

“The current schedule, in fact, does not allow smooth connections via Beijing, which hinders the possibility to compete with other carriers that are granted more favourable slots. Given these circumstances, the route is no longer profitable. However, Alitalia is willing to reconsider its decision in case the situation changes.”

In December, 2016 the airline attempted to enhance its connectivity in China via Beijing by expanding its codeshare partnership with fellow Skyteam member, China Southern. This gave Alitalia access to Guangzhou, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing and Shenyang through China Southern’s services, while the Chinese carrier benefited from codeshares on 19 of Alitalia’s routes between Rome and Italian, European and Southern American destinations.

This isn’t the first time Alitalia has cut the route, having done so previously in 2013 as part of cost-cutting measures. The airline then resurrected the service in 2016 following restructuring that was assisted by Middle Eastern carrier Etihad’s 49 per cent ownership stake in the airline. However, the Italian carrier has struggled to compete with low-cost airlines and in May last year entered bankruptcy proceedings.