There was much excitement in Germany this week following a report by Italy’s Il Messaggero that Lufthansa was considering taking a 15 to 40 per cent stake in ITA Airways. [paywall]
This development ought not come as a surprise to our readers.
Last November we reported that ITA Airways favoured joining the Lufthansa Group of airlines and Star even though it had only just linked with its Skyteam rivals.
Board member Alfredo Altavilla revealed that his airline’s Skyteam arrangement was for one year only. He said “We (ITA) are a pretty bachelorette who has many admirers. We hope that Lufthansa will be one of the handsome and rich admirers who might be interested in ITA Airways.”
It now seems that Mr Altavilla’s wish might be about to happen.
Investment in ITA Airways would provide Lufthansa with greater access to the Italian market.
Here in London we might believe the UK is Lufthansa’s most important market (outside its home market and the USA) but in fact it’s Italy (according to Lufthansa).
Speaking on the sidelines at last year’s IATA AGM in Boston, Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr is reported to have said, “We believe that the natural home for a new Italian national airline is a partnership with Lufthansa.”
There are very many feeder flights operating out of Italy to nearby Lufthansa Group hubs at Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna.
A good number of these are operated by Verona-based Air Dolomiti which feeds passengers between secondary (Italian) destinations and the twin Lufthansa hubs at Frankfurt and Munich.
It is therefore hardly surprising that Air Dolomiti is owned by Lufthansa and its CEO is a former Lufthansa executive.
So what would a Lufthansa-ITA Airways link mean for the passenger ?
In short, in would mean better connection possibilities and, hopefully, a stronger ITA Airways.
Much Italian business travel originates in the northern cities. These are all closer to the Lufthansa hubs when compared to Amsterdam, London or Paris.
High revenue business travellers are lucrative customers. In the case of Italy, should they wish to patronise their national airline, they would be spared a Rome backtrack when flying long-haul.
On the other hand it’s expected that Lufthansa would improve ITA Airways’ Rome hub as the latter is well located for services bound for Africa and the Middle East.
Developments are awaited with interest.