Lufthansa Italia, the new airline which is set to challenge Alitalia in Italy's skies, is to make its maiden flight on Monday. It will focus on the northern city of Milan.
Lufthansa is expanding into sunnier climes
Lufthansa shied away from an invitation to take over unprofitable Alitalia and has instead been buying jets to found a new line, based in the prosperous northern city of Milan rather than the capital Rome.
The Germans already own a short-haul Italian airline, Air Dolomiti. All Lufthansa's foreign units have been acquisitions.
"For the first time in Lufthansa's history, we are creating a new airline outside Germany," said a senior executive, Karl Ulrich Garnadt, at a naming ceremony for the line's first two Airbus A319
airliners, which were named Milano and Varese.
The first destination from Milan's Malpensa Airport on Monday morning will be Barcelona.
Lufthansa lukewarmly offered terms to invest in Alitalia as the Italian line ran into trouble, but Air France-KLM showed stronger interest and this month bought a 25-per-cent stake from Alitalia
investors for 323 million euros (430 million dollars).
The Germans decided to focus on Milan after Alitalia scrapped many of its connections from that city.