Alitalia will terminate operations between Rome and Skopje due to weaker than expected demand. The decision comes two and a half years after the airline introduced flights on the route. The Italian carrier will operate its final service between the two capital cities on November 30. Ticket sales have been suspended thereafter. Alitalia currently maintains seven weekly flights to Skopje with its 88-seat Embraer E175 jet, which will reduce to three per week from November 15, prior to their termination at the end of the month. The airline will keep the city as part of its network through its codeshare partnership with Air Serbia. It has its flight numbers and designator code on the Serbian carrier's service between Belgrade and Skopje.
Alitalia's operations to the Macedonian capital will be discontinued together with its service between Rome and Istanbul. The sudden move comes after reports surfaced the airline is losing 500.000 euros on a daily basis. Etihad Airways, which has a 49% stake in the carrier, said last month that Matteo Renzi’s government has not delivered on its promises and that "a number of the condition precedents haven’t been met". Within the former Yugoslavia, Alitalia serves Belgrade and Podgorica. Despite announcements in 2013 that it would introduce services to Zagreb and Pristina, these plans never materialised. In the past, Alitalia also maintained flights between Milan and Skopje, but the route was suspended in 2008 due to low profitability. Furthermore, it once flew to both Sarajevo and Zagreb and operated seasonal summer flights to Dubrovnik and Split as well.
The Italian carrier faces no direct competition on its Rome - Skopje service. It becomes the third carrier to terminate operations to the Macedonian capital this winter season, following Swiss International Air Lines and Czech Airlines, which discontinued services over a week ago. The latest suspension will give Wizz Air, which dominates at Skopje Airport, an opportunity to consider the route to Rome. The low cost carrier already serves Bergamo and Treviso in Italy from its Macedonian base. Over 78.000 Macedonians are believed to be residing in Italy. This winter, Alitalia is operating daily flights to Belgrade and three weekly services to Podgorica.