Wednesday, July 25

Alitalia: Arriverderci, Roma

Well, it looks like Alitalia is finally on the block. Strange, considering it's been losing money, well, pretty much since the day after Leonardo Da Vinci tested his flying machine. And while in other countries, we simply wax nostalgic while TWA dies a slow and painful death, while sleek SwissAir (SwissAir??!!) goes belly up (but, with true Swiss efficiency is reborn more or less a day later as Swiss), Belgium's Sabine crashes and burns, and they tear down the last 'M' from New York's PAN AM building, well, in Italy, they will have none of it. Like the cat that won't go away, it keeps on taking off and landing, right on its feet.
Basically, an airline that flies due to the wholesale sponsorship of its employees by Italian taxpayers. Dollar per dollar it is probably not unlike the money which goes toward supporting the British Royal Family, Fergie's shopping sprees and all.
You'd think, in the very least, the Italians would receive a bit of a discount on flights given their immense generosity. After all, even Sardinians get to pay less to go back and forth from the island on their very own airline. Instead, they are met with raging strikes -- first by the pilots, then flight attendants, then baggage handlers, then controllers, I imagine right down to the people that screw in lightbulbs in the lounges -- surly personnel, uncontrollable delays, flight cancellations and lost luggage.
And what do the Italians do? As they do with their almost hourly inconveniences: they simply ignore it. They figure, like everything else Italian, Alitalia will 'arrangiarsi' (always work itself out) and so, they continue to support their airline and collect their mileage. After all, what counts here is none of the above. A trip on Alitalia and you'll be surrounded by staff all donning Armani. Isn't that reason enough to fly?
At last count, no one wanted to buy it. Air One, a small Company so cool, so wonderful, so friendly, so efficient, I like to think of it as the short-distance version of Singapore Airlines, just abandoned the bid.
And if you go in or out of Rome's Fiumicino Airport, you'll find an enormous statue of Leonardo right out in front. Maybe, even the Politicoes and Alitalia officials will look out their window, and take a cue from the greatest Italian to have ever lived. After all, even Leonardo had the courage, grace and common sense to abandon his dream for flight.

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