Cargoitalia calls it quits

Cargoitalia, the all-cargo carrier that had been recently slashing routings and trying to evolve amid the departure of commercial director Roberto Gilardoni, has suspended operations. The carrier was born from Alitalia’s cargo division and counted three MD-11Fs among its fleet.

A note on the company’s website reads that operations have ceased “due to the company winding-up,” and the carrier’s contract with its long-time press agency, Pilot Marketing, was terminated on December 23. In a statement, the agency shed a little more light on the subject.

“A meeting of shareholders of Cargoitalia has voted to place the company in voluntary liquidation,” the statement read. “The board of directors has suspended the airline’s operations in preparation. No further statement will be issued until a liquidator has been appointed and the finances of the company have been reviewed.”

In December, Air Cargo World reported about the carrier’s recent struggles and received feedback from industry analysts that seemed to believe Cargoitalia even started off on the wrong foot. The carrier launched with a fleet of MD-11Fs, and the intention was always to eventually upgrade the fleet. These ex-Alitalia MD-11 freighters, according to analysts, did the carrier no favors.

“These are horrible, inefficient aircraft with rear-loading, main-deck cargo doors,” an industry source said. “Even though their third MD-11F is a more workable passenger-to freighter conversion, the deficiency of these aircraft make it difficult to make money these days.”

At the time of the report, Managing Director Giacomo Manzon had been thinking about upgrading the fleet. The leases on the three MD-11s were to expire in 2013 and 2014; the airline had already signed an MoU with Airbus for five A330s.

In a last effort to reinvent itself, Cargoitalia was to present itself as an ACMI and charter division. At the time, newly promoted charter and ACMI manager, Giacomo Sciuto, said the product, dubbed Ondemand, was expected to account for around 30 percent of Cargoitalia’s flying time.

Ondemand had been launched on the back of two key charter contracts with Africa West, which operates internal cargo flights across West Africa, and Lufthansa. Cargoitalia detailed the Lufthansa deal as a call for a twice-weekly operation between Frankfurt and New York and Chicago.

Lufthansa Cargo had earlier confirmed it signed a 340 block-hour agreement with Cargoitalia. “The original intention was that Cargoitalia would operate twice weekly on this route from October to December to help us through this peak period,” a Lufthansa Cargo spokesman said. “This contract has since been revised, due to weak demand, and Cargoitalia will now operate the 340 block hours from October to February next year, which means they will only be required to operate a weekly flight on our behalf.”

As of that report, Cargoitalia was only flying twice-weekly scheduled services from Milan to New York and Chicago as well as a twice-weekly route to Dubai and Hong Kong. Services to Atlanta and Shanghai, which premiered to great fanfare in both cities, had been scrapped a few months after their launch date.

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