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ROME: Etihad and Alitalia have revealed their business strategy for the Italian flag carrier including new routes, new product and service standards and a new cost management process in a bid to "reinvent" the airline and return it to profitability by 2017.

Etihad CEO James Hogan commented: "In a market still beset by the continuing Eurozone crisis, anything other than rapid, decisive change is simply not an option."

AZ Etihad EXpoThe key elements of the new plan include a three-hub strategy in Italy: Milan Malpensa will increase long-haul services; Milan Linate will expand connections with partner airline hubs and Rome's Fiumicino airport will expand both short, medium and long haul services in order "to maintain relevance to the Italian market".

New routes from Rome will include Berlin, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Mexico City, Santiago (Chile), Beijing and Seoul, with increased flights to New York, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi. The airline will also add 13 weekly flights from Malpensa, with daily services to Abu Dhabi, four flights a week to Shanghai and more flights to Tokyo.

There will also be increased connectivity with Etihad Airways' hub in Abu Dhabi with daily services from Venice, Milan, Bologna and Catania, as well as additional flights from Rome. Venice will be the only non-hub airport to link Abu Dhabi with long-haul aircraft.

While retaining relationships with Skyteam members Air France/KLM and Delta, Alitalia says it will have a new partnership with airberlin & NIKI, as well as "work more deeply" with Air Serbia and Etihad Regional.

Alitalia says it is in the process of transferring 14 Airbus A320s to airberlin as it reviews options to acquire additional aircraft including new deliveries from Etihad's existing order book. The two national airlines are the official carriers of 'Expo Milano' that is expected to attract 20 million visitors between May and October 2015.

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