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Italy’s Air One orders Airbus planes for $4.8 bln

Air One, the Italian airline seen joining a possible bid for Alitalia, has ordered 24 planes from Airbus for $4.8 billion.

Air One also has an option to buy another 20 planes for $3.8 billion, the airline’s head, Carlo Toto, announced at a news conference on Wednesday. The 24-plane order comprises 12 A330s and 12 A350s. The A330s will be delivered by 2012 and the A350s by 2018.

Air One is Alitalia’s biggest competitor and is seen by the local media as a likely member of a group of investors the new Italian government is trying to recruit for a new bid for the ailing flagship carrier. Air One’s previous bid for Alitalia was rejected by the carrier in favor of one by Air France-KLM. But the Franco-Dutch carrier withdrew its bid in April due to union opposition and political pressures.

Air One is increasing flights out of the Malpensa international airport near Milan with the aim of eventually becoming the airport’s main airline. The move comes as Alitalia reduces its presence at Malpensa to focus on its hub in Rome as part of a restructuring to cut costs. (Reuters)