ITA: Italian government approves privatisation of new national airline

Italy's government on Friday agreed to the privatisation of ITA Airways, the successor of Alitalia currently being eyed by Lufthansa and MSC.

Alfredo Altavilla, president of ITA Airways, at the airline launch.
Alfredo Altavilla, president of ITA Airways, at the airline launch. Photo: Handout/ITA Airways

Cabinet ministers were presented with “a decree… to start the process of looking for a partner for ITA”, Finance Minister Daniele Franco told a news conference.

He said there was no timing yet, and it could be through “public offer or direct sale”, but “the government will maintain a minority share, not a controlling share of ITA, that could be sold at a later stage”.

German carrier Lufthansa and MSC, the world’s biggest container shipping company, expressed an interest last month in acquiring a majority stake.

The government has decided to open up the sale to all potential bidders, despite a request by MSC and Lufthansa for a 90-day period of exclusivity in the negotiations.

ITA, which began operating in October out of the ashes of loss-making Alitalia, is valued at between 1.2 billion and 1.4 billion euros, a financial source told AFP.

Italy had tried for years without success to offload the loss-making carrier Alitalia, which was placed under state administration in 2017. It accumulated losses of 11.4 billion euros between 2000 and 2020 before being closed down last year.

Its situation was made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded airlines worldwide.

“A sale to MSC and Lufthansa could be the last chapter in a history that has already cost the taxpayer too much money,” said Andrea Giuricin, a transport economist at Milan’s Bicocca university.

He told AFP: “ITA Airways will not be able to survive on its own, without the support of a major European airline. In the first two and a half months of its existence, it lost 135 euros per passenger carried.”

Italy pumped 700 million euros ($800 million) into ITA in 2021, with two further injections of funds expected this year and next, totalling 1.35 billion euros.

The next tranche of 400 million euros is due by the end of March.

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UPDATE: What are the Covid travel rules between Italy and the UK?

With the rules on travel between Italy and the UK set to change again, here's what you need to know about the latest restrictions.

The travel rules between Italy and the UK have changed again.
The travel rules between Italy and the UK have changed again. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The rules on travel between Italy and the UK have changed multiple times over the past few months in response to the evolving Covid-19 health situation.

Another change is incoming from March 1st, as Italy plans to drop the testing requirement for vaccinated or recovered travellers from non-EU countries, which includes the UK.

Here’s the latest summary of the what you need to know when travelling in either direction.

Travelling from the UK to Italy

From March 1st, Italy will relax the rules for arrivals from outside the EU, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Italy to ease Covid travel rules for non-EU arrivals on March 1st

According to a new ordinance on Italy’s Covid travel restrictions, travellers entering Italy from non-EU countries like the UK will no longer need to show both proof of vaccination against or recovery from Covid and a negative test result.

Either a vaccination certificate, recovery certificate or negative test result is accepted for travel into Italy when the new rules come into force.

The change brings the UK, and other non-EU countries, in line with travellers coming from Europe, since Italy introduced the same rule for EU arrivals on February 1st.

So, if you’re vaccinated or recovered, you won’t need to get tested as well for travel to Italy – though this is still currently the rule until Monday, February 28th.

It also means unvaccinated travellers and those not recovered from Covid-19 will be able to enter Italy from the UK with just proof of a negative test.

Passengers can present certificates of recovery, vaccination or testing in digital or paper format.

Digital or paper copies are accepted for travel into Italy. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

What counts as vaccinated for entry purposes isn’t clear, as neither Tuesday’s ordinance nor the previous set of rules for EU arrivals specified how many shots of a Covid-19 vaccine travellers must have had and within what timeframe, or whether the vaccine must be approved by the Italian or European medicines agencies.

If you want to be sure that your vaccination certificate will be recognised, you should contact your airline for advice before travelling.

The digital passenger locator form (dPLF) requirement is still in place under the latest rule changes – find the instructions and download link here.

You have to complete this form regardless of the means of transport you enter Italy by, before entering the country. It can also be completed and shown in either paper or digital format.

Airlines will continue to check documentation and enforce these rules. The new Italian ordinance specifies that carriers must check the dPLF and that travellers have one of the required entry certifications before boarding.

You’ll also be denied boarding if you show any Covid-19 symptoms.

Once in Italy, there is no quarantine requirement. The only case where this would apply is if you failed to provide the required paperwork, in which case you’d be obliged to undergo a five-day quarantine at the address you listed on the digital Passenger Locator Form. This would then be followed by a molecular or antigenic swab at the end of the isolation period.

Travel within Italy

While these will be the rules for entering Italy from March 1st, UK travellers need to be aware of a different, tougher set of restrictions once in Italy.

Italy has extended the use of its domestic ‘green pass’ proving vaccination, testing or recovery to cover almost all aspects of life in the country.

Although you will be to enter Italy with just a negative test, once you’re here you’ll need to be either vaccinated or recovered to access everything from hotels and restaurants to public transport under rules in force until at least March 31st.

A visitor shows her Covid-19 certificates for scanning before entering a museum. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Obtaining a negative test result alone only will provide you with the so-called ‘basic green pass’ (green pass base). But this is restricted to much fewer services such as shops, public offices and hairdressers, for example.

If you’re travelling to Italy for tourism and all that entails, like staying in hotels, eating out and visiting museums, it’s not enough.

Boarding a train or domestic flight in Italy is not currently allowed without proof of vaccination or recovery either.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Following a decree announced by Italy’s health minister on February 2nd, foreign visitors, including those from the UK, who are boosted against Covid-19 with a vaccine recognised by Italy can access all venues and services in the country on an indefinite basis.

Those who have completed their primary vaccine cycle more than six months ago but have not received a booster shot can still access all services and venues (such as hotels, restaurants and public transport) by taking a rapid antigen or PCR test from a certified provider (e.g. a pharmacy).

A negative rapid test result will produce a pass that is valid for 48 hours; a negative PCR test result will produce a pass that is valid for 72 hours.

Within Italy, there are currently no restrictions on travel and movement between regions under current rules set by the national government, though local authorities can impose their own measures at any time.

If a region or province is declared a high risk ‘red’ zone, travel restrictions are in force for the unvaccinated; for those who are vaccinated, no restrictions are imposed.


Italy has a number of other measures in place which travellers should be aware of, including the requirement to wear masks indoors – the requirement to wear masks outdoors has now been dropped. More protective FFP2 masks are mandatory in some places including cinemas and on public transport.

Find more information on how Italy’s vaccine pass rules apply to visitors and check the validity of different vaccine certificates here.

What are the rules for travel from Italy to the UK?

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland often have different entry rules – make sure to check the latest official guidance for the specific UK destination you’re travelling to.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all updated their restrictions on February 11th.

READ ALSO: UK ends Covid test requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers

You no longer need to take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival into the UK if you’re fully vaccinated, while this is still a requirement for those unvaccinated a maximum of two days before travel.

It is also now the case that fully-vaccinated passengers travelling to these countries are no longer required to take a Day 2 test; while non-fully-vaccinated arrivals are not required to self-isolate and do not have to take the Day 8 PCR test.

Passengers who are vaccinated can now upload proof of their vaccination status instead of a Day 2 test booking reference. The UK does not require a booster shot in order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

Under 18s do not require any tests.

The existing rules remain in place around the Passenger Locator Form, which must be completed in the 48 hour window before arrival.

You can find the Passenger Locator Form HERE. However, make sure you complete the document in plenty of time, as travellers have reported technical glitches with the form in recent weeks.

For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy:

You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:

  • From Italy: 1500 (freephone number)
  • From abroad: +39 0232008345 , +39 0283905385

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest news updates via our homepage or travel news section.