SkyTeam’s Chinese presence has just been further bolstered by Italian national carrier Alitalia’s entrance into the Rome-Beijing market.
The airline will begin flights in mid August with a 4x weekly service on their three class A330-200 aircraft, with hopes to increase the service to daily in the near future.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the inauguration of services, Alitalia CEO Cramer Ball said:
“We have introduced a trio of new intercontinental routes from Rome in 2016 and today’s new service to Beijing joins the recently launched destinations of Santiago and Mexico City, an 8% increase in the number of our long-haul flights we offer. Alitalia is committed totally to the Chinese market and wants to grow its presence in China. The new service to the Chinese capital city is an important investment for Alitalia as part of our strategic growth to serve long-haul destinations for the benefit of business and leisure travellers.”
Alitalia now competes directly with Star Alliance carrier Air China on the route.
Whilst interesting that the airline chose Beijing as their first foray into China rather than a SkyTeam mega hub such as Shanghai through China Eastern or Guangzhou through China Southern, this is a welcome move for the airline to start re-establishing their Asian operations. AZ once had a presence in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila, Singapore with flights even as far off as Sydney and Melbourne. Today they are limited to their existing flights to Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon, with Beijing serving as their third destination in Asia.
AZ now offers yet another good SkyTeam option from Asia to Europe and beyond – here’s hoping that the flight connects well with AZ’s North American bank of departures from Rome, especially East Coast options. I know I’d rather do a one stop through Europe than a non-stop on either CZ or MU from Beijing to New York.