An Italian airline is betting Canadian travellers are looking for more choice and a better price when they book plans to Europe.
Air Italy has launched service between Milan and Toronto six times a week until October.
“This is a congested market,” admits Rossen Dimitrov, the airline’s chief operating officer and a Canadian citizen.
But Dimitrov says Air Italy has “done its homework” researching the route so as not to make the mistakes by other carriers in the past.
At a launch event on the 21st floor of Toronto’s luxury Four Seasons Hotel, Air Italy described its strategy, focusing on convenience, better meal selection and above-average amenities both in economy and business class.
Dimitrov says Air Italy has spent considerable effort on developing new staff, including making an investment in what he described as “emotional intelligence training.”
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Canadian travellers place a high value on travelling aboard airlines at a low price. Air Italy says it intends to be competitive.
“Another airline between here and Europe is good for consumers,” said Alex Macheras, a London-based writer who focuses on aviation issues.
“Ultimately, Air Italy will need to be offering competitive fares to ensure they are at the top of the searches when passengers are going onto comparison sites to check out how they can get to Europe,” he told Global News in an interview.
Others have tried and failed to sustain service abroad. Last year, Primera Air, based in Europe, went bankrupt after launching service between Paris and Toronto, as well as other to other destinations in the United States.
Virgin Atlantic Airlines, owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson, launched London to Toronto service in 2001. But a few months after flights began, the company halted the route. The decision was made after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.
Dimitrov said Air Italy is committed to the Toronto to Milan route.
“We’ve seen the response so far,” he said, optimistic that its initial summer flight schedule would be filled.