Alitalia successor ITA gets aviation authority's green light to fly

MILAN, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), the new state-owned carrier created to replace bankrupt Alitalia, has received a green light from Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC to start flying and selling tickets, ENAC said on Wednesday.

The go-ahead arrives after months of wrangling with the European Union over the role of the state in saving the carrier, and is expected to ease the hiring of some Alitalia employees by ITA. ITA declined to comment.

Some 7,000 staff out of a 11,000-strong Alitalia workforce are currently subject to a costly temporary lay-off scheme.

ENAC said it had issued an air operator’s certificate (AOC) and air transport operating licence to ITA on Wednesday.

“ITA can take off,” ENAC President Pierluigi Di Palma said in a statement.

The new carrier will initially operate a fleet of 52 planes, seven of which are wide-body, used for longer-haul routes. The number is expected to increase progressively to 105 aircraft in 2025.

Italy’s industry ministry said in July it expected ITA to hire between 2,750 and 2,950 of Alitalia’s staff this year, rising to 5,550-5,700 in 2025, with up to 4,000 workers likely to join its handling and maintenance units.

ITA, which is expected to start flying in mid-October, will have its work cut out competing with low-cost carriers including Ryanair and Wizz Air after they scooped up Italy’s domestic routes during the summer. (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Jan Harvey)