On the 5th of May 1947, the first flight was operated between Turin, Rome and Catania route with a three-engine Fiat G-12, although the history of Alitalia began in September 1946.
The same year, Alitalia made its first international flight with a Savoia Marchetti SM 95 aircraft from Rome to Oslo with 38 passengers on board.
In 1950, the four-engine DC4 entered service with flight attendants, dressed in uniforms designed by Sorelle Fontana, and serving hot meals with a high-quality and refined selection of food and beverages.
In 1957, LAI and Alitalia merged and a new airline called Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane. A company with a fleet of 37 aircraft, 3000 employees, and a network of roughly 100 thousand km. This merger took the Company from 20th to 12th place in the large international carriers ranking.
In 1960, The Rome Olympics Games were another important event of Alitalia history. The airline became the official carrier, carrying 1 million passengers in one year for the first time in its history. The same year the new Leonardo da Vinci airport in Fiumicino was opened and the first jets entered service. Alitalia transferred its operations base here the following year and inaugurated its modern Training Center.
In 1970, Alitalia became the first European airline company to fly with a fleet of all jets. And one of those aircraft was the Boeing 747 jumbo jet which allows the Company to increase passenger and cargo capacity on the North Atlantic routes. With the arrival of the new jets, the logo and aircraft livery were changed. The “Winged Arrow” was replaced by the tri-color “A”.
In 1980-1982, the Airbus A300, a twin-engine jets with great capacity, arrived to continue with the fleet renewal. Others aircrafts were the MD Super 80 for medium-haul flights and the B747 Combi. Those ones allowed greater flexibility in passenger and cargo transport.
The last years of the past century were very productive for Alitalia. To the new uniforms designed this time by Giorgio Armani, new three-engine jets were equipped with technologically innovative flight instrumentation, and the MilleMiglia Program was launched. With the new aircrafts it was now possible to fly nonstop for more than 12 thousand kilometers.
In 2001, Alitalia became part of the SkyTeam Alliance with Aeromexico, CSA Czech Airlines, Air France, Korean Air and Delta Air Lines. The twin-engine B777 replaced the B 747s in long-haul routes.
In late August, 2008, one Italian bank and a group of Italian entrepeneurs founded Compagnia Aerea Italiana (CAI). Their intention was to buy the trademark and some of the assets of the bankrupt Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane, and then merge these with Air One.
On the 30th of October of the same year, CAI offered no less than EUR1,100 million to partially acquire Alitalia.
On the 12th of December, 2008, Alitalia’s profitable assets were transferred to CAI.
Soon after that, CAI bought Air One, adopting the Alitalia trademark for the merged company.
On the 13th of January, 2009, the new Alitalia started its operations.
During 2009, the airline managed to increase its load factor and reduce its losses.
In 2012-2013, from the Company hub in Rome Fiumicino, Alitalia inaugurated new connections to Tbilisi, Zurich, Abu Dhabi, Yerevan, Fortaleza and Prague. Now Alitalia’s International and Intercontinental Network has expanded with flights to Oran (Algeria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Montpellier (France), Podgorica (Montenegro), Cracow (Poland), Yekaterinburg (Russia) and Bilbao (Spain). From June to September, Alitalia flies to Antalya in Turkey and Djerba in Tunisia.
In June 2014, Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based UAE national airline, announced it was taking a 49% stake in Alitalia. The deal was signed on August 8, 2014.
On September 30, 2014, Air One, Alitalia’s budget subsidiary, ceased flight operations.
On January 1st, 2015, Alitalia – Compagnia Aerea Italiana formally passed its operations to Alitalia – Societa Aerea Italiana, a new entity owned 49% by Etihad Airways and 51% by the former Italian stakeholders of Alitalia – CAI.
By May 2016, the interiors of Alitalia’s 122 aircraft have been refitted in just five months, and all wide-body aircraft were to be fitted with Wi-Fi and new in-flight entertainment systems by the middle of 2017. Also, the airline is planning to introduce new aircraft: the Airbus A320neo family has been proposed for short-haul and medium-haul, while the Airbus A350, Boeing B777-300ER, and Boeing B777X are being considered to expand the long-haul fleet, which may grow to 40 long-haul aircraft from its fleet of 25.
In March 2017, the Board of Directors approved Alitalia’s turnaround business plan, which is supported by ‘four pillars of change’ and includes a range of radical and necessary measures across the whole of the company to stabilize it and secure its long-term sustainability.
In 2018, Alitalia was the 12th largest airline in Europe. Alitalia carried 21.5 million passengers and, as part of its 2018 summer schedule, operated 4,000 weekly flights to 100 destinations, 73 international and 27 Italian.
In September 2019, Alitalia reported the 23rd consecutive month of growth in the long-haul sector with a 1.8% increase in revenues and a 3.6% growth in the number of passengers carried, compared to the same month of 2018. For the first nine months of 2019, Alitalia reported a 1.4% increase in total passenger revenues and a 4.3% increase in the intercontinental sector. At the same time, Alitalia was the second most punctual airline in Europe, with 82.5% of flights landing on schedule.
There have been recorded no fatal incidents involving Alitalia aircraft so far.