October 14, 2015 – At a special meeting in Rome, Italian flag carrier Alitalia unveiled a series of customer service enhancements due to roll out in the coming weeks that are intended to improve the passenger experience. The airline’s executives also confirmed that Alitalia’s three-year business plan is on track for profitability by 2017.
The chairman of Alitalia, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, and vice chairman of Alitalia and president and CEO of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, revealed the details, with di Montezemolo stating, “Our performance is in line with the business plan. And, for the first time since 2009, the load factor for the quarter exceeded 80% and we are on track to meet our objective of reaching profitability by 2017.”
This announcement follows our news of Hogan’s plans for the airline, which we reported in January.
Fleet and destinations
New routes from Rome Fiumicino to Santiago in Chile from May 2016, and to Mexico City from June 2016 were announced, meaning that Alitalia will operate five Latin American routes and a total of 10 in the Americas.
The interiors of the airline’s medium-haul aircraft will be retro-fitted with leather seats and new cabin refurbishments, with work due to begin in November, to be completed in spring 2016. Long-haul aircraft restyling, including trimming the Stelia Aerospace Solstys business class seats in Poltrona Frau leather – as found in Etihad’s impressive B787 and A380 interiors – will be completed by autumn 2016.
Alitalia also plans to be one of the few European airlines to offer connectivity throughout its entire fleet. Internet connectivity installation is already underway on the airline’s long-haul fleet, which when complete, will then be extended to the entire Alitalia fleet, including its medium-range aircraft.
The airline is also evaluating options to expand its long-haul fleet, which will see next year’s long-haul capacity increase by more than 20% compared to last year, according to Alitalia executives.
Another key aspect of the new Alitalia is enhancements in its service, with a focus on a ‘customer-first culture’. Quality of service will be ensured by a new ‘Alitalia Excellence Training Centre’ where skills will be taught to all customer-facing staff – the 2,000 sq.m. center is due to be inaugurated in the next few days. However, excellence cannot wait, so since January, 1,820 Alitalians have been sent to Etihad Airways’ Training Academy in Abu Dhabi.
As di Montezemelo stated in January’s announcement, “Nowadays, in a world that is characterized by fierce competition, Alitalia has to provide high-quality service. Alitalia has to view its customers as the most important thing, together with product. Customers have to be seen as guests, people who deserve our utmost attention, people who deserve innovative services onboard and on the ground. We have to provide high-quality services to our customers in order to give them the utmost satisfaction. When you invite somebody over for dinner you always try to offer them best, and that is one of our priorities.”
As well as enhanced staff training, Alitalia is also introducing a new complimentary executive car chauffeur service for business class customers traveling to Abu Dhabi from Rome, Milan and Venice, as well as to New York JFK from Rome and Milan. This will be rolled out progressively for travelers flying to other intercontinental destinations from Italy.
Refurbished and brand new airport lounges at Rome, Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa, Naples, Catania and New York JFK are also due to be completed over the next 12 months.
To ensure a good end-to-end experience, a new alitalia.com website will be introduced in November, designed to provide convenient access from an identical user interface to services from any device, whether desktop, laptops, tablets or a smartphone.
Alitalia will launch advertising campaigns both in Italy and in all major countries in which it operates, to promote its services and Italy as a destination for tourists.
The final announcement is a series of initiatives being introduced to improve the journey for Alitalia customers using Rome Fiumicino as a departing, transiting and arriving airport. The project, which includes “significant investment” in both infrastructure and personnel, will include reconfiguration and expansion of the fleet of shuttle buses, stairs and baggage belts for aircraft; teams of Alitalia ground staff, with new easily recognizable uniforms, to assist and guide passengers in transit; and new procedures to accelerate the boarding of passengers, with an increase in the number of staff at the departure gates.