Airline deal makes US-Italy travel easier

Alitalia announced July 5 that it is has joined forces with Air France-KLM and US carrier Delta, creating a new joint venture and the world's largest transatlantic network.

The deal means that customers on both sides of the Atlantic will be able to seamlessly book one of 250 daily flights offered by all four carriers, and will add Rome as a key hub (alongside Amsterdam, Paris and Delta hubs including New York and Atlanta) with new services from Cincinnati, Memphis and Salt Lake City in the US.

Routes from Italy will include 20 flights daily from Rome and Milan to five US cities.

It is estimated that the joint venture, which is separate from the Skyteam alliance that all four airlines are members of, will account for over a quarter of all transatlantic traffic.

The agreement is likely to see the creation of several new codeshare routes previously unavailable, meaning that passengers will be able to book flights with the other three carriers as if it were their own carrier, and expanding the list of destinations available.

KLM President Peter Hartman said that customers will be able to "choose between multiple gateways in the US as well as in Europe, via Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Rome Fiumicino" whilst Delta CEO Richard Anderson said the deal would add convenience for customers across the United States and Europe.

Alitalia, which was reborn in 2009 after its original operation collapsed in 2008 and has been under close scrutiny ever since, also reported carrying more passengers and laying on more flights in the second quarter of 2010.