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Alitalia has revealed new crew uniforms as part of its re-branding initiative and a wider program to turn around the troubled airline, a program promoted by majority stakeholder Etihad Airways.

The new uniforms are a departure from the attractive but conservative blue and green suits crew have worn over the past years, recall the tailoring of earlier uniforms designed by Giorgio Armani, and clearly harmonize with the styling of Etihad’s new uniforms revealed last year.

Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said of the project, “We are introducing a new look which captures the spirit of Alitalia today as it continues on its journey of renewal and growth. Our aim was to create a stylish collection which would represent Italian excellence around the world. The new uniforms complement the renaissance of the Alitalia brand and the rejuvenation of its aircraft fleet and products for its customers.”

Designed by Milan based haute couturier Ettore Bilotta, the crew and staff uniforms are intended to communicate the airline’s new “Made of Italy” campaign.

Tailor-made by a team of 500 Italian couturiers, the uniform collection features fabrics made in Tuscany, and silk made in Como. The men’s uniforms were specially tailored in Puglia, and the accompanying leather accessories are also Italian, the gloves produced in Naples, and shoes made the Marche region.

Billotta took his inspiration from the golden age of Italian fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, also incorporating a sense of Italy’s heritage and culture. “It also celebrates the people of Alitalia, their professionalism, style and passion for the airline,” Alitalia says.

The new uniforms for crew and ground personnel, at all customer touch points, will be gradually introduced starting July of this year. The airline is also currently designing new uniforms for the airline’s flight crew and operational staff.

Made of Italy

Alitalia also launched a new global brand campaign with the premiere of a television commercial which introduces a new brand message by reviving an old romance.

The clip features Alitalia staff as brand ambassadors and the sites and landscapes of cities the airline flies to around the world, as well as iconic images of Italy. The theme music is a new cover of the classic song “Volare” sung by award-winning Italian songstress Malika Ayane.

The campaign includes a series of short storytelling interviews with Alitalia partners involved in various phases of the brand’s restyling.

Alitalia plans to deploy the campaign on television and digital media.

Flying the Flag

Etihad CEO James Hogan described the transition for Alitalia from a legacy flagship carrier to a modern carrier flying the Italian flag, by saying that Alitalia has been a leading European airline to a leading International airline, based in Europe.

It’s a nuance, but an important one which reflects the Etihad Group’s strategy of playing on a global pitch, with a local flavor brand collection.

Alitalia means to make the most of its soft assets by promoting the vibrancy of the Italian culture which holds a historic place at the forefront of design, style, and the arts.

When Alitalia updated its livery, in 2015, the airline kept Walter Landor’s original ‘A’ from 1950, but commissioned the Landor firm to create a subtle design update which respected the legacy of the airline’s iconography.

Updates to the cabin interiors in 2015 were also a conservatively managed, respecting the economic realities of the airline.

The project of rebranding for Alitalia has been one of retaining the essence of the brand and fixing the operations in what is really a move to create a collection of viable ‘locally sourced’ international airline services brands.

High Bar

An updated Alitalia Airbus A330 in flight.

An updated Alitalia Airbus A330 in flight.

The aesthetic updates of Alitalia’s livery, interiors and now uniforms, also reflect the effort of Etihad Airways to ensure a reasonably consistent passenger experience standard throughout its alliance through investment Etihad Group.

But Etihad Airways set the bar so high with its Reimagined program that it’s difficult to imagine any of its stake partners could make the same level of investment in time and money to match the Abu-Dhabi based airline’s product.

Instead, as the various stages of Alitalia’s rebranding program shows, the strategy has been to slowly redress rather than redefine.

All According to Plan

All of this is in the interest of progress, Alitalia and Etihad Group executives present emphasized during the event.

Playing on the style and elegance of Italy, its culture, cuisine and art, appeals to international travelers who will start their journey early onboard Alitalia, from the moment they are greeted by the first staff member at the airport, and onboard.

It also appeals to the Italian identity of domestic customers and employees, who are proud of their airline through good times and bad.

Etihad has helped make bad times better times by delivering both necessary capital and fresh management oversight with perspectives outside of the traditional Alitalia organization.

As a result, Alitalia has recently reported a significant reduction in losses of €381 Euros from €580 million in 2014 to €199.1 million for 2015.

While committed to ongoing cost control and efficiencies, Alitalia has announced a €400 million investment on improvements to be carried out between this year an 2020, which the company says will fortify the business and benefit customers.

The report from Alitalia’s C-Suite is that the airline is on track to recover and retain profitability under the new structure, and grab better control over key markets, including what James Hogan described as a critical corridor between Germany and Italy.

“Alitalia is regaining strength and controlling its destiny, working hard with quality partners to drive revenue,” said Alitalia’s Ball. “We are showing our customers that the new Alitalia stands for great service, quality and that it represents the best this great country has to offer. Our product, service and punctuality have changed to best-in-class and we are passionate about providing the highest levels of service and quality.”

Ball added, “We are the new smart choice in European air travel.”

Photo Credit: Alitalia crew members in new uniforms unveiled this week as part of a larger repositioning of the Italian carrier. Alitalia