June 2011 | Following a financial restructuring after its bankruptcy in 2008, Alitalia has been upgrading its in-flight experience in the past year. Italy’s flag carrier has taken a ‘Made in Italy’ aproach towards the development of its new services, teaming up with Italian luxury brands for in-flight amenities and offering authentic regional Italian cuisine onboard.
As style icon and globetrotter Tyler Brûlé (of Wallpaper and Monocle fame) several years ago already suggested: “Alitalia may well be the one carrier with the most potential to reinvent itself as a serious luxury brand as its has all the raw materials at its disposal.” […] “As the in-flight experience becomes increasingly homogenized and more airlines start to behave alike, Alitalia’s new owners might take a page or two from the country’s strong luxury heritage to put its national carrier back in flight.”
With the arrival of two new A330 aircraft in July 2010, Alitalia introduced full-flat beds in Business Class, a new Premium Economy cabin, and started an upgrade program for its B777s as well. Additionally, the airline completed a EUR20 million refurbishment programme for its short- and medium haul Airbus aircraft, equipping them with slim leather seats and individual LCD screens.
For its Business Class amenities on long-haul flights, Alitalia has teamed up with long-standing Italian luxury brands ‘Ginori’ (since 1735) for dinnerware, cutlery and glassware and ‘Frette’ (since 1860) for table linen, blankets and pillowcases, while passengers also receive a Bulgari amenity kit. Frette blankets and pillows are available as well in Alitalia’s Premium Economy and Economy cabins, and the amenity kit in Premium Economy passengers is provided by Italian cosmetics brand Culti.
Says Alitalia director of customer experience and ancillary revenue Aureliano Cicala, “We made tangible investments in seats, materials, food and beverage quality and lounge services, mostly in cooperation with famous Italian brands like Ginori, Frette and Bulgari.” […] “Alitalia aims to promote ‘made in Italy’.”
‘Original Flavours of Italy’
Taking a cue from SWISS’ ‘Taste of Switzerland’, and using only local ingredients, Alitalia is offering seasonal and regional Italian specialties to passengers in Business Class, matched to local wines, San Benedetto mineral water and topped off with a freshly brewed espresso. Menus vary every three months, with outbound flights featuring foods from one particular region and inbound flights offering local dishes from another region. For example, passengers in Alitalia’s Business Class are currently offered the traditional cuisines of the Italian regions of Lombardy and Umbria, with dishes such as ‘alla norcina’ and lentils from Castelluccio, gorgonzola ravioli with a pear and squash sauce and ‘pizzoccheri valtellinesi’ (a vegetable pasta dish). Previous Italian regions that have been featured include Tuscany, Veneto, Abruzzi, Lazio, and Sicily.
Further adding to the ‘Made in Italy’ onboard experience is a wine card featuring a regional map with background information of the wines on offer, while a video about the region’s food and wines is shown on the IFE system. For those passengers that want to recreate their in-flight meal at home, the menu card also includes a recipe of one of the dishes served.
Altialia’s catering service is offered in cooperation with Buonitalia, a govermental institution that promotes Italian food and wine, and AICIG, the association that supervises the Italian protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. The local wines have been selected by the Italian Sommelier Association, which has also trained Alitalia flight attendants on the basics of wine.