Lufthansa has completed the initial launch of Lufthansa Italia, a new airline serving eight European destinations and three regional cities out of Milan Malpensa.
The new carrier now flies between Malpensa and Barcelona, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Paris (Charles de Gaulle), Lisbon, London (Heathrow) and Madrid. Within Italy, Lufthansa Italia also serves Bari, Naples and Rome from its Milan hub.
Lufthansa Italia flights depart for Milan Malpensa from Heathrow three times a day, at 0850, 1405 2015. The return flights leave Milan at 0850, 1405 and 2050. The airline is also codesharing on three further Bmi-operated flights between the two cities each day (made possible by Lufthansa’s recent purchase of the British carrier), leaving London at 0705, 1225 and 1750, and returning from Milan at 1045, 1610 and 2135.
“Lufthansa Italia is something new for Lufthansa,” said Heike Birlenbach, head of Lufthansa Italia . “It is the first time that Lufthansa has set up a completely new operation in a different country, without purchasing a company or working on a merger.”
Birlenbach added that northern Italy represented an opportunity for growth for Lufthansa. “The area around Malpensa airport (Milan, the Lombardy region and the north of Italy) has about 10 million inhabitants and had always been very interesting for Lufthansa.
“We believe the Italian market is a potential future growth market and of course we’d like to participate. We’d like to play an important role in Italy.”
While Lufthansa Italia is currently a division within Lufthansa, with offices based in Germany, in the near future it will become independent and will be based in Milan. According to Birlenbach, it is important that the offering on board should be essentially Italian and the new airline aims to blend traditional Lufthansa values with Italian flair, with flight attendants and pilots being based in Italy.
“That’s why we call it Lufthansa Italia,” said Birlenbach. “They don’t need to speak any German, since it is not necessary for Lufthansa Italia to be German, but rather they need to be Italian or speak Italian.”
Birlenbach continued: “We will of course keep the brand values and reliability and quality aspects that people understand with the name of Lufthansa.”
The flight attendants’ uniforms are based on the classic Lufthansa design, with a new colour scheme and the Italian tricolore flag. Seat headrests also show the tricolore. The food and beverage on board is aimed at the Italian market, with freshly-made espresso on offer in business class on international flights, as well as pasta dishes.
On Bmi operated flights, the aircraft is owned by Bmi and retains the Bmi livery. The cabin crew is also from Bmi, but there will be at least one crew member who speaks Italian. Onboard however, the food offering is the same as Lufthansa Italia, including the onboard espresso machine, and the interior is Lufthansa Italia-branded, with the tricolore headrest.
In the future Lufthansa Italia has not ruled out serving other destinations, including transatlantic routes. “One option is to increase the number of flights on the routes that we already serve, another option could be to look for new destinations on an international basis, and also domestically,” said Birlenbach. “That will always be a discussion to have with Lufthansa headquarters.”
For more information go to lufthansaitalia.com
Report by Sara Turner