Etihad Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Alitalia, Italy’s leading carrier and a partner of the SkyTeam Alliance, have jointly been named as Official Global Airline Carriers for Expo 2015, according to a media statement released on Wednesday.
Expo 2015, the upcoming Universal Exposition will be held in Milan from May 1 to Oct. 31 2015.
An estimated 20 million visitors are expected to attend Expo 2015, of which approximately 7.6 million will travel to Milan by air, with 1.5 million arriving from intercontinental destinations, 3.3 million from international destinations and 2.8 million from within Italy, according to the statement.
Alitalia and Etihad Airways will offer almost 100 flights per day to and from Milan, linking 866 cities across the globe through 125 direct flights and a further 741 via one-stop connections, the media statement added.
Gabriele Del Torchio, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said: “Expo 2015 will be a remarkable opportunity for Italy. We could not miss being part of it, and we are very proud that Alitalia and Etihad Airways have been jointly chosen as the Official Global Airline Carriers.
“The choice reaffirms Alitalia’s important and strategic role as an infrastructural asset in Italy’s development and its commitment to travel and tourism,” Del Torchio added.
“Alitalia and Expo 2015 share the same values and vision: the pursuit of excellence, style and elegance typical of the “Made in Italy” brand. We are also committed to showcasing Italy’s renowned cuisine, design, fashion and art,” Del Torchio said.
“With our partner Etihad Airways, we look forward to offering visitors from around the globe convenient and comfortable flights to what will be the event of 2015.”
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Italy is a strategic market for Etihad Airways and teaming up with Alitalia as an Official Global Airline Carrier for Expo 2015 is a natural extension of our existing codeshare agreement.
“Italian style is embedded in many things at Etihad Airways. From working with leading fashion designer Ettore Bilotta for our crew uniforms, to a luxury furniture maker Poltrona Frau in our lounges and First and Business Class cabins, to hiring top Italian on board chefs, what we bring to Expo 2015 is Italian inspired knowledge and a commitment to looking after our guests,” Hogan said.
“Through our vast international route network, Etihad Airways will play a leading role in promoting Expo 2015 to a global audience, focussing on key markets across the Gulf region, Australia, Asia, and the Subcontinent,” he added.
“In the coming months Etihad Airways and Alitalia will unveil an iconic Expo 2015 pavilion, and we look forward to welcoming guests from all over the world through its doors from 1 May 2015.”
Giuseppe Sala, CEO of Expo 2015 Company, said: “We are pleased with having Alitalia and Etihad Airways as partners of Expo Milano 2015. We want 20 million people to visit the Exhibition site: we expect 8 million coming from abroad. We know that a worldwide operating asset is needed to support us in reaching this goal.
“The partnership with Alitalia and Etihad Airways is in line with our target. From now on – even during the six-month World Expo – all the initiatives will have a double value: on the one hand they will be useful to promote the Event; on the other hand they will make easier travelling to Milan and leaving from Milan. In this way they will also contribute to give the best welcome to all people visiting Italy taking part in the Event,” Sala added.
In addition to the extensive range of flights being offered, Alitalia and Etihad Airways will unveil a number of business initiatives including all-inclusive packages and special fares targeted at families, seniors, business travellers and young people, over the coming months.
To support and promote the joint commercial activities, the two companies will also implement an integrated marketing and communication plan across all available channels including livery design, on board and ground announcements, communication to loyalty program members, print and digital campaigns, and social media activities.