New state-owned Italian airline Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) took over from Alitalia on Friday, permanently establishing the 75-year-old Italian style and glamor icon after years of financial losses and failed bailouts.

An early morning flight from Milan touched down in the southern city of Bari just before 0600 GMT to announce the first new small-scale airline to fly in the same green, white and red color as its predecessor.

The traditional choice of popes, prima dunas and Italy’s political elite, Alitalia has run state-appointed directors since 2017 to avoid being liquidated.

The airline, founded in 1946, has gone through an astonishing series of restructurings and changes of ownership.

The company has only finished one year on the black market this century, and the government has bailed out multiple times, spending more than 8 billion euros ($9.27 billion) in just the past three years.

The Italian carrier said late Friday that ITA had won the iconic Alitalia brand for €90 million, nearly a third of what Alitalia had hoped for.

As has so often been the case during her lifetime, Alitalia’s last rites have been surrounded by political strife, with the far-right opposition party Brothers of Italy blaming Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government for its demise.

“Today we lose another gem, the company that made our nation’s history…and made us proud to be Italian,” said party leader Giorgia Meloni.

After seeking to sell Alitalia to private investors, in 2020 Rome succumbed to the dire consequences of the pandemic on the aviation sector and decided to create an ITA from its ashes.

The new airline, in which the government will invest 1.35 billion euros over three years, will start with 52 planes and 2,800 employees, compared to about 110 planes and a workforce of 10,000 workers for Alitalia.

Under an agreement negotiated with the European Commission, there should be a clear break between Alitalia and its successor, and the new carrier should be profitable by the end of its 2021-2025 business plan.

However, Alitalia’s legacy of high costs, mismanagement and significant political and union influence may be difficult for the ITA to ignore.

The launch of a leaner airline leaves a question mark over the future of more than 7,000 Alitalia workers who will be placed under a temporary layoff scheme pushed by the government until at least the end of 2022.

(1 dollar = 0.8630 euros)

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