Alitalia announces Zagreb and Pristina launch
Alitalia has confirmed it will launch services to both Zagreb and Pristina this year as the Italian carrier looks to put greater emphasis on the Eastern European and Balkan markets. “The Balkans and Eastern Europe play an increasingly important and strategic role in the Alitalia Group’s new industrial plan”, the airline said in a statement. It adds, “Committed to meeting the demands of the ever growing business travel market between Italy and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Alitalia intends to add new flights to Zagreb (Croatia) and Pristina (Kosovo)”. The news comes only a week after Etihad Regional cancelled its planned Rome - Zagreb service, which was to launch at the end of the month. The Abu Dhabi based Etihad is tipped to take over the debt ridden Italian national carrier soon.
Alitalia’s arrival into Zagreb will pose as direct competition to Croatia Airlines' service to the Italian capital which is operated via Split and Dubrovnik. With Belle Air Europe out of the picture following its bankruptcy late last year, Alitalia faces little competition on flights between Pristina and Italy. Within the former Yugoslavia this summer, Alitalia will launch daily flights to Skopje on May Day. “Flight schedules are designed to accommodate both business and leisure travellers including Macedonians living in Italy, with convenient connections from Macedonia to the rest of Alitalia's intercontinental and international network via the company’s Rome Fiumicino hub”, the airline says.
The Italian national carrier operated up to two daily flights to Zagreb prior to its financial problems in late 2008. It also ran seasonal summer flights to Dubrovnik and Split. Late last year the airline said it was considering launching services from Rome to Skopje, Pristina, Zagreb and Sarajevo, to be implemented between 2013 and 2016. Within the former Yugoslavia, Alitalia already operates flights to Belgrade and Podgorica.