Italian airline Alitalia, whose inaugural flight from Rome touched down at OR Tambo International Airport this week, may have lessons for this country's minister of public enterprises when he turns his gaze on SAA. This includes upping rather than cutting long-haul routes and finding an equity partner with deep pockets and nerves of steel. After a 17-year absence, Monday marked the arrival of the first of four flights a week between Rome and Johannesburg. "Here is where we want to be," said Alitalia chief commercial officer Fabio Lazzerini. The airline predicts numbers on the Rome-Johannesburg route at about 4,000 passengers a week. "If it's successful, we will re-evaluate the frequency," said Lazzerini. The airline's route expansion - which comes after another tough trading year - took some observers by surprise. "We've encountered a bit of turbulence," said Lazzerini. "But the airline is in quite good shape, much better than last year when we went through quite a big crisis."That ...

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