As Italy's national airline, Alitalia, struggles to get off the ground, the competition is on the tarmac. Lufthansa has launched Lufthansa Italia, with its main hub in Milan, and the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has claimed more landing space on Italian soil.
‘Emirates ... has chosen Italy as a hub to access Europe', said Italian undersecretary for economic development, Adolfo Urso. ‘Thanks to this agreement, Italy will more easily become a tourist destination for the newly rich from the Gulf and from southeast Asia', he added.
Emirates Airlines has will expand its 10 landing slots per week to 21 slots in Rome, 21 in Milan and 14 in Venice, Urso said. It will also launch 28 cargo flights per week.
Meanwhile, the German carrier has announced that the new Lufthansa Italia will start flying on February 2, 2009 with flights to Barcelona and Paris. Flights to Lisbon, London, Brussels, Bucharest and Madrid will take off in the spring.
Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow said the new airline would have no influence on Lufthansa's position regarding its negotiations with Alitalia to take a minority stake in the ailing airline.