Lufthansa launches new Italian subsidiary
Lufthansa's intention regarding Alitalia becomes clear following the Italian government's decision to sell the airline to business consortium, Cai.
Frankfurt -- German airline Lufthansa said on Wednesday that it is launching a new subsidiary in Italy called Lufthansa Italia.
With an initial fleet of six Airbus A319 aircraft, Lufthansa Italia will offer flights from Milan's Malpensa airport to major European destinations from February 2009.
"Lufthansa Italia will position us in an important market characterised by strong demand, which also holds out opportunities for buoyant growth in the future," said Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber.
"Milan and Lombardy rank among Europe's economically most important and strongest regions. A good route network connecting them with Europe's principal cities is essential," he said.
Lufthansa Italia, which will be founded under Italian company law, "blends traditional Lufthansa values, notably reliability and high quality, with Italian flair," the German airline said.
Lufthansa, which has been approached to take a stake in bankrupt national carrier Alitalia, already has a subsidiary in Italy called Air Dolomiti.
It also has a code sharing arrangement with the Italian airline Air One, which operates mainly domestic routes.
"Lufthansa Italia and Air Dolomiti will in future work alongside each other as 100 percent Lufthansa subsidiaries," a Lufthansa spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman did not rule out Lufthansa taking a stake in a relaunched Alitalia, following the government's decision to sell the airline to an Italian business consortium, Cai.
Cai is looking for a foreign partner, either Lufthansa or Air France-KLM, to take a 20 percent share in Alitalia.
"We are monitoring the situation concerning Alitalia very closely," the Lufthansa spokeswoman said.
Lufthansa Italia will start flights to the first two destinations, Barcelona and Paris (Charles de Gaulle) from Feb. 2. Flights to Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest and Madrid will be added four weeks later.