ITA Airways (Alitalia) quits London Heathrow for City and GatwickBack to Forum
* Am posting this under Alitalia*
Shock news that ITA Airways will not be serving London Heathrow in summer 2024.
I say that because, as Alitalia, Italy’s national airline has operated at Heathrow to multiple destinations in Italy for decades.
(Although overall service frequency had been cut in recent years)
From June 1 ITA Airways will also operate out of Gatwick to Rome.
However schedule frequency at LGW will be sparse.
Flights to Milan and Rome will operate out of London City.
Of course in the future ITA Airways may well return to Heathrow using some of slots held by Lufthansa.
Note that as I write these words (at 10:40 hrs) ITA Airways is updating its website booking pages.9 Feb 2024
It is a surprise.
It’s possibly an issue with the Heathrow slots.
Something is happening behind the scenes because when (at 10:55 hrs) checking for availability LHR-FCO or LGW-FCO after June 1 there’s just a message saying “No flights found” and “All flights unavailable” which is clearly ridiculous.9 Feb 2024
Did not see this coming but Alitalia themselves had reduced their LHR schedule and sold off some slots, and that was a few years ago and pre-Covid I think.
Maybe ITA are doing a Tarom and selling off a slot to a Skyteam Partner? Or someone who was willing to pay good money for it?
Maybe ITA is being wise (unlike Alitalia) and dropping loss-making routes like MXP-JFK where there was buckets of competition and lousy yields?9 Feb 2024
Years ago (before LCCS became established in the Italian market) Alitalia used to operate many daily flights from Heathrow to both main and secondary destinations in Italy.
It cold be that over the years Alitalia sold or traded these slots for cash.
Strangely ITA Airways’ online website (when accessed by laptop) continues to show no flights from LHR or LGW to Rome (FCO). (Info checked at 13:30 hrs today)
But my humble Android phone when I visit the website (not the app) and search for London-Rome in June the display gives flights from LCY (London City) and LGW (Gatwick) to Rome. Nothing for LHR (Heathrow).
Airbus A319 is shown as operating AZ215 / AZ216 to and from LGW.
But note that, according to the display, there is only one daily flight LGW-FCO with ITA Airways.9 Feb 2024
LuganoPirateParticipant9 Feb 2024
The news regarding ITA Airways withdrawing from London Heathrow has today begun to appear on several reputable aviation websites.
But at time of writing (14:00 hrs today) ITA Airways has yet to update its pc website.
Flights departing Heathrow are displayed up until March 30 but after that date the display remains blank.
Of course this is a nonsense. Behind-the-scenes staff must be working on the website display.
A few days ago it was thought the change would not happen until the beginning of June. But perhaps ITA Airways will be quitting Heathrow earlier.
Developments are awaited.
Anyway I have solved the reason for ITA Airways quitting Heathrow.
It’s simply because the slots were previously owned by Alitalia and then they were transferred to Etihad.
There were a total of 54 weekly Heathrow slots and ITA Airways had to transfer them to Etihad.
(But ITA Airways did however retain a very small number of these slots which are currently being used)
Etihad must have kept some slots for its own use but the others were leased to other airlines including Jet Blue and American Airlines.
Heathrow slots are a complex business.
Thenewsdept.com on February 7, 2023 explained the situation.12 Feb 2024
Something in Airways Magazine on it.
Sounds to me like a smart move. I doubt many travellers are connecting in London and when you consider the grotty terminals at LHR, airport at capacity and problems every time flow rates are reduced, misery on the Elizabeth line etc it must be an improvement.
Let’s hope LCY are on the ball with the ground experience but the new xrays are a big improvement with a speed up at security.13 Feb 2024
Finally ITA Airways has updated its website to show its LGW-FCO service.
These do start from June 1.
But from Heathrow ITA Airways currently shows no availability after March 30.
Note that the schedules for Gatwick are sparse. Just one daily flight.13 Feb 2024
ITA isn’t choosing to do this, they are being forced to exit the LHR route because of past mistakes by management that effectively handed control of the Alitalia slots to Ethiad, which I am sure was a large part of why Ethiad was ever even interested in Alitalia. Every global full-service carrier wants to serve LHR for its premium traffic and it is a global flagship route, having Italy’s flag carrier exiting is a shame, and gifts the LHR – Italy market to BA who I wager will increase capacity on existing routes using more 321 and perhaps widebody service to Rome during the summer.
1 user thanked author for this post.13 Feb 2024
What an awful deal Alitalia closed with Etihad! Just €39Mil for 68 slots!!! Didn’t Kenya Airways sell a single arrival & dep slot for $75Mil! Very poor management from Alitalia but we knew this.
I find LCY very convenient though when going to London. But ITA does indeed need Gatwick to fly higher capacity planes like A321.
But just €39 Million for 68 slots!!!! I still can’t believe it.14 Feb 2024
I’m not sure this is such a smart move as ITA would also miss out on potential connecting SkyTeam traffic from DL, VS et al at LHR.
LCY is a good, smaller, niche airport. However, to suggest T2 and T5 are ‘grotty’ is a bit of a stretch! (Though T4 isn’t at all that new, there are some decent lounge options and it doesn’t feel quite as ‘tight’ as T3).
A real boon for BA though.14 Feb 2024