Alitalia staff get new designer uniforms despite uncertain future

MILAN (Reuters) - Despite a cloud over its future, Alitalia is decking out its flight attendants in sleek new uniforms designed by Alberta Ferretti featuring the colors of the Italian flag.

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The loss-making airline, once a symbol of Italy’s post-war economic boom, was put under special administration last year for the second time in a decade, struggling to compete against low cost carriers and high speed trains.

Italy’s previous government had been looking for new investors, with easyJet, Lufthansa and Wizz Air all submitting expressions of interest.

But the lengthy formation of a new anti-establishment government delayed the process. First contacts between the new administration and Alitalia [CAITLA.UL] could take place next week, a source familiar with the matter said.

On Friday, Ferretti, known for her feminine style, unveiled a collection of navy blue dresses, skirts and pant suits for Alitalia staff, adorned with green and red striped bows and cuffs, and golden buttons. The designs were matched with red ties and silk scarves and combined with leather gloves and bags.

“I wanted sober lines and for Italian elegance to travel around the world, she told reporters.

Alitalia declined to disclose the cost of the uniforms.

The old look, introduced two years ago by former investor Etihad as part of the Abu Dhabi airline’s relaunch of the carrier, cost some 6 million euros ($7 million). It was criticized by staff as being uncomfortable and impractical.

Asked about the timing, Alitalia Chief Commercial Officer Fabio Lazzerini said the move was part of a broader effort to revamp the airline’s brand.

“It had to be done, it was a specific request made by the employees,” he said.

In 2006, U.S. carrier Delta launched a new look for staff, despite being in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The new Alitalia uniforms will be worn by 6,000 staff, but not pilots, and will be made by Italian uniform maker Forint.

Alitalia said production had started and hoped the uniforms would be out “as soon as possible”, or September at the latest.

($1 = 0.8608 euros)

Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Additional reporting by Alberto Sisto in Rome; Editing by Mark Potter