Italy’s storied flag carrier has announced it will no longer issue tickets, triggering a countdown of just a few weeks until its familiar red and green livery vanishes from our skies for good.
The nationally owned airline is to be replaced in October by ITA, a smaller company with a different logo, but the service which once carried Italian pride, style and cuisine — not to mention the Pope — to all corners of the planet will be long gone.
While the demise of Alitalia might bring a sense of loss for many Italians, it’s unlikely to come as a surprise. The airline has spent the past few decades teetering on the brink of collapse as authorities scrambled to strike lifeline alliances with investors and other global carriers.
“Each time it succeeded in being rescued, albeit with the only result of further prolonging its agony”, says Giovanni Orsina, director of the School of Government at Rome-based LUISS University.
Founded 74 years ago, Alitalia was once known by Italians as “freccia alata” — aka the “winged arrow” in honor of speed — will retire for good. Its aircraft’s tails bore the popular logo of a capital ‘A’ shaped like the wing of an aircraft and colored like the Italian flag.
Aside from its cuisine and car brands, it was perhaps one of Italy’s most recognized symbols overseas.