Alitalia Airlines, one of Europe’s largest international brand names and Italy’s national airline for 75 years, ceased accepting reservations on Tuesday night and plans to close on October 15.
The news has been known for some time, as Alitalia has been in financial trouble for decades and was placed under state administration in 2017.
100 million euros have been set aside by the Italian government to reimburse consumers of the airline. As part of a bailout agreement with the European Union, a new debt-free business was created to take over Alitalia’s operations.
Tickets for the new national airline will go on sale on August 26 and flights will begin on October 15 under the name ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo).
According to Euronews, ITA will purchase 52 Alitalia aircraft, as well as airport slots and other assets. It intends to fly to destinations such as New York, Boston, Miami, Tokyo, and a number of European cities from airports in Rome and Milan. The airline intends to gradually expand its fleet to 105 planes by 2025.
Alitalia was founded on September 16, 1946, but it wasn’t until 1963 that it became the de facto airline of choice for the Papacy in Rome. That was the start of Pope Paul VI’s 15-year reign as head of the Catholic Church, and he began spreading his message far beyond the Vatican.
In nearly 58 years, Alitalia has flown four popes to 171 different countries.
Alitalia took Paul VI on nine international trips. Pope Saint John Paul II flew with the airline on a total of 104 international trips. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, flew with Alitalia 24 times, while current Pope Francis has flown with the airline 33 times, with a 34th trip to Hungary and Slovakia scheduled for Sept. 12-15.