Alitalia wins for once - in food fight

The loss-making Italian carrier seems to have got one thing right: its club class food. Priorities, priorities...

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
You have to hand it to the Italians; they may not be very good at running airlines, but they make great food. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to discover that Alitalia, that perennial basket case in an industry full of them, has just waltzed off with the 'Best Airline Cuisine' award in some global travel awards. Important to get your priorities in order, we reckon - who needs financial stability when you can serve delicious Italian regional specialities?

We should stress that the award, presented by Global Traveller magazine, isn't supposed to reflect the views of hoi polloi like us. It's based on a survey of over 25,000 business and luxury class travellers (there are still that many?), who were asked to nominate their favourite food. Alitalia won out for its Magnifica Class offering, which apparently this year 'introduced regional Italian cuisine as part of a larger initiative to offer customers an authentic Italian experience'. (Rumours that you have to eat your meal while gesticulating wildly and honking the horn of the aeroplane repeatedly sadly couldn't be substantiated.)

MT has to confess that it's never travelled Magnifica Class - and, given the constraints of our expenses policy, almost certainly never will. On the other hand, we are huge fans of Italian food - and as such, we can well believe these elegantly-heeled mile-high diners' claim that the food of Italy's biggest airline is a cut above the rest.

However, there's only one small issue. Alitalia has been losing money for as long as we can remember. It went bankruptcy in 2008, before a group of Italian entrepreneurs rescued the brand and merged it with Air One (later bringing Air France-KLM in as a shareholder). But although it seems to have recovered a bit since then, reports earlier this week suggested it was in discussions with unions about cutting another 800 jobs - having already laid off 3,000 people in the last few years. We can't help feeling that all these staff would argue that they should spend less time worrying about breaking bread, and more time worrying about breaking even.

On the other hand, perhaps they're onto something. Global economic slowdowns come and go, after all, but great food is a never-ending joy...

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