Well we are in mid-October already, how time flies. Thanksgiving was nice and quiet and the weather
though gradually getting cooler and the days shorter, is still very mild and pleasant. Beautiful Indian Summer on the island
and very pleasant all around, difficult to think that we will be changing time in early November and then Winter will slowly set
Weeks go by quickly and each week brings new activities, I have to keep a calendar agenda. No time for boredom here.
This Thursday in the news, it was announced that Alitalia the Italian transport company was ceasing operations after 75 years. It was created in 1946 as the New Italian Republic was created with the abolition of the Italian Monarchy and the end of the Second World War. I remember back in 2009 when we lived in Rome, Alitalia was already then in deep financial trouble and bankrupt. However the Prime Minister then Sylvio Berlusconi refused to allow the airline to disappear or be bought by another carrier. So he bailed it out of trouble with grand plans to reorganize and start anew. Nothing came of it and today finally it was buried. Changes in transportation in Italy itself with high speed trains connecting all the major towns and regions made flights within Italy obsolete.
International flights with the pandemic took a serious hit and Alitalia really had no future with its bloated staff and far too many unprofitable routes. However the Italian Government has decided to create as of tomorrow a new company called ITA or Italia Transporto Aereo with far fewer routes and only a quarter of the staff the old Alitalia had.
Back in the period 2007 to 2011 when I was posted to Rome, I had to travel to Albania often, in fact I went to Tirana 38 times during that period, a record really. I always flew with Alitalia direct from Rome for the one hour flight, the plane would fly from Rome to Bari and then cross the Adriatic to Tirana. However with the constant threat of bankruptcy on one particular trip I really thought Alitalia was going under and I would be stuck in Tirana. The crew stayed at the same hotel I stayed at, there were only 2 choices in Tirana, one was the Sheraton and the other was an hotel operated by an Austrian chain with a good restaurant. The Sheraton did not have restaurants, it was attached to a shopping mall which had gone bankrupt and the only restaurant or stand served awful burgers and hotdogs. The Austrian Hotel was much nicer with a beautiful garden and pool and far better service and amenities and was an easier walk to the Canadian Consulate. Thing is, in Tirana like in all Balkan countries, roaming big feral dogs are a feature, it is quite a problem and you should avoid them. It is much worse in other Capital like Belgrade or Bucarest or Sofia.
I suppose if Alitalia did go under, the plan was to drive to the port of Durres and there catch the ferry across to Bari. Another plan was to catch a flight with the Italian Air Force which flew to Albania, the country was an Italian colony between 1939-1943 and King Zog was forced into exile to London, living at the Ritz Hotel. The King of Italy became the ruler of Albania. A strange little country to this day, very much what you would expect from the Balkan. Anyway it did not happen and Alitalia survived.
Alitalia was a nice airline, the service was good as was the food. But it could also be unpredictable in a very Italian way, a flight would be cancelled or changed without notice. It had style and panache which is very Italian. I am sure that ITA will continue in the same tradition, certain things never change.