In yet more international expansion for the newly re-built Alitalia (remember that they went through insolvency just a few years back) the Italian airline has announced Havana, Cuba as a new destination for their forthcoming winter schedule.
Since the Cuban government re-opened diplomatic relations with the United States airlines have been flocking back to the popular tourist destination, with jetBlue beating the flock as the first American airline back to the city just a few weeks back.
Alitalia (AZ) plans on a twice weekly operation from Rome (what a layover for that crew!) starting on December 16 on their Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. Flight AZ 632 leaves Fiumicino Airport (FCO) at 17:00 for a the rather long red eye over to the Caribbean arriving at 09:00 local time. The return journey is also a red eye and leaves at 18:30 and arrives at 10:30.
Given the frequency and time period of this newly introduced flight it wouldn’t be surprising if packaged tours, cruises and holidays are marketed for the flight – its prime time for Italians to leave the cold European continent for some sun and fun on the beach and for some older folks to soak up a culture they haven’t really had access to until now. We might see AZ partner up with some of the bigger cruise operators in area such as Carnival to offer partner deals – it’s not surprising that the flights from Rome tie up well with cruise departures and arrivals out of and into Havana for short haunts to nearby tropical destinations and/or countries.
AZ is celebrating quite the international route renaissance – while the airline has always had a very respectable presence in the American market, their influence in the Far East and elsewhere has been on the decline (if not almost completely non-existent) for some time now.
Adding HAV on top of already announcing Seoul (SkyTeam hub from Korean Air so a perfect gateway for frequent fliers into Asia), Santiago (cultural and historical ties with Italy) and Beijing (an important foray into the Chinese market) is marking quite a productive expansion for the newly rebuilt carrier.
A new hard product introduced (though mostly on their Airbus fleet), new uniforms for crew, fleet renewal, a new refreshed logo and a re-started recruitment drive all bode well for Italy’s flag carrier and one of the more iconic airlines in the industry.