Italy’s ITA Completes Its First Long-haul Flight: Rome – New York

The heir to now-folded Italian flag carrier Alitalia, ITA Airways, inaugurated its first long-haul service on Thursday. The flight arrived at New York JFK on time, despite a slightly delayed departure from Rome’s Fiumicino. ITA will operate the route with six flights per week, adding services up to twice per day over the holiday season.

Important day in operations

Flight AZ608 took off from Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport at 10:42 and landed at New York’s JFK eight hours and 52 minutes later, at 14:46 local time. Despite departing with a 42-minute delay from the scheduled time of 10:00, the flight touched down 14 minutes before the scheduled arrival time of 15:00.

“Today is a very important day for our company – with this flight we are launching intercontinental operations with a key market such as the United States, which has always been a crucial destination for both leisure and business tourism,” ITA’s Chief Commercial Officer Emiliana Lomisani said as quoted by Travel Quotidiano.

“However, we are only at the beginning of our journey, and every day we work to offer our passengers an increasingly rich network of destinations, which will gradually grow over the next year,” Lomisani continued.

To start with, ITA will operate six flights to JFK per week with the aim of reaching a total of 14 during the Christmas period. Return tickets are currently being marketed on the airline’s website starting at €350. The airline has also scheduled services from Rome to Miami and Boston for March 2022. Flights from Rome to Los Angeles are scheduled for June next year, and Milan Malpensa to New York JFK is expected to begin around the same time.

New livery, known route

Chosen for this first transatlantic journey in its new livery was EI-EJH, an eleven-year-old Airbus A330-200. The plane was, as all of ITA’s current fleet, inherited from its predecessor Alitalia. It is leased from Voyager Aviation and features 20 lie-flat seats in business, 17 in premium economy, and 219 standard economy seats for a total of 256.

ITA has kept six of Alitalia’s 14 A330s for its long-haul purposes. They have an average age of just over ten years. Meanwhile, in the process of streamlining and simplifying the fleet, the new carrier decided not to take Alitalia’s remaining Boeing 777s. Meanwhile, the new carrier has signed an MoU with Airbus to take ten Airbus A330neos and 11 A320neos, and seven A220s.

Long-haul then and now

ITA commenced operations on October 15th, the same day the 75-year long history of Alitalia came to an end. The grand old dame of Italian aviation was founded shortly after the end of World War II and completed its first international flight from Rome to Oslo in July 1947, operated by a Savoia-Marchetti SM.95. The four-engined domestically-built plane was not pressurized, and so people had to wear oxygen masks when passing over the Alps.

The longest transatlantic service in Alitalia’s early history was operated by the Lancastrian, a commercial version of the British-built Avro Lancaster bomber. It took the airline close to 30 hours to get from Rome to Buenos Aires in those early days. Passengers on ITA’s inaugural long-haul might rejoice over how things have changed in the past 70 odd years.


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