Alitalia returned to South Africa today after a 16-year absence when an Airbus A330 touched down at O. R. Tambo International Airport shortly after 8am.
The airline will now operate on the Rome-to-Johannesburg route four times a week with passengers on the 250-seater Airbus A330 having the choice of three travel classes: Magnifica Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy.
Said Alitalia Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Mr Fabio Maria Lazzerini: “We are delighted to be back in South Africa and especially O. R. Tambo International Airport which remains the busiest airport in Africa and a gateway to the region. This was always an important market for us and we are pleased that the process of restructuring and realignment of Alitalia has now permitted us to return.
“The Airbus A330 that we are operating on the route is modern, efficient and offers passengers excellent choice in terms of classes of travel. We believe that this direct flight to Rome will enhance opportunities for business and travel between South Africa and southern Europe,” concluded Lazzerini.
Bongiwe Pityi, General Manager of O. R. Tambo International Airport, says the Italian airline will make an important contribution to the economy of the region.
“The timing of Alitalia’s return to South Africa is apt considering the plans the City of Ekurhuleni has for the development of an aerotropolis through which the Gauteng City Region hopes to attract strategic investments in key economic sectors including aviation, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and logistics.
“The engine of an aerotropolis is the airport and its air routes which offer businesses speed and connectivity. Alitalia with its connectivity to 94 international destinations, including 26 Italian and 68 international destinations, with over 4,000 weekly flights and 143 routes will contribute immensely to the realization of the aerotropolis and will enhance the attractiveness of Johannesburg and all of Gauteng as a destination,” says Pityi.
“It goes without saying that one of the most effective drivers for our local economy remains our ability to attract travelers and tourists to our beautiful country. For this reason the destination marketing being executed by tourism bodies such as South African Tourism needs to be supported and commended.
“We are especially pleased to note that the return of Alitalia is as a direct result of the collaboration between ourselves, the Gauteng Province, City of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng Tourism and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency.
“As partners focused on developing new routes and attracting new entrants to operate in and out of our airport, we take pride in the behind the scenes hard work which culminated in the approval of a signed memorandum of understanding that will govern how we work as partners in the newly formed Gauteng Air Access Committee. Together we believe we can develop significant new air traffic for the region,” says Pityi.
She says the reintroduction of Alitalia to South Africa’s flagship airport provides passengers the opportunity to fly direct to a major European capital without long stop-overs for connecting flights.
“The leadership team of O.R. Tambo International Airport is therefore very pleased to welcome Alitalia to South Africa as well as to Africa’s hub. It is such a great pleasure that we can rekindle the relationship we previously shared for many years.
“Both ourselves and Alitalia have developed in many ways and I believe that we are going to have a successful partnership with a mutual goal of providing an excellent passenger experience,” concluded Pityi.
Alitalia was ranked the most punctual airline in the world in January 2018 with 91.89 per cent of flights landing on schedule.