Milan-Alitalia, the airline that has symbolized Italy’s post-war boom and La Dolce Vita for years, is scheduled to fly its last flight on Thursday after the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic hit a company that has been enforced for years by the country’s government.
The Flag5-year-old national flag carrier – which was the third largest in Europe after British Airways and Air France in the late 180s – has been in an Italian version of bankruptcy protection since 2017. It has not made an annual profit in two decades, with low-cost airlines and its own high-cost competition and strike-prone, long struggles with staff. These problems persisted almost to the end: more than 100 flights were canceled due to the strike this week.
Formed shortly after World War II, it became the official carrier of a new emerging jet set between the United States and Europe. In particular, it shakes up Italian and American film stars in Hollywood and Italian movie sets. The last days of Alitalia coincided with the romanticism of Rome’s “Sweet Life” in films such as Federico Fellini’s 1960 “La Dolls Vita”. Famous airplanes included Sophia Loren, who once took part in airline commercials.
A legacy of the pope also used it as their preferred airline: Alitalia’s distinctive green and red tail-fin colors served as a backdrop for arrivals at Papal airports around the world. Pope Francis flew from Rome to Hungary last month and then to Alitalia in Slovakia.
An extended version of this story is available at WSJ.com