Italian flag carrier Alitalia has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US, in an effort to keep its leased terminal gates at New York JFK. The temporary relief will allow Alitalia to continue operations to the US.

Chapter 15 allows foreign companies protection under the US Bankruptcy Code as they undergo insolvency proceedings in their own country. It guarantees a temporary restraining order until June 23, offering a short period of protection from creditors. A hearing is scheduled for June 26.

According to the media Law360, this move will protect Alitalia’s US-based assets and recognize the insolvency proceedings that began last month in Italy, saying it faces imminent disruption of US operations.

Alitalia did not immediately respond to ATW’s request for comment.

Flights to the US generate 30% of Alitalia’s overall revenue. The SkyTeam member operates up to three daily flights from New York JFK to Rome Fiumicino and one daily flight to Milan Malpensa. Flights to JFK generate about 15% of its current revenues.

Alitalia also operates to other US airports, including Boston Logan (Massachusetts), Chicago O’Hare (Illinois), Los Angeles (California) and Miami (Florida).

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways’ equity partner Alitalia went into special administration in May after employees voted against a labor agreement, which was critical to the carrier’s turnaround plan.

Separately, Alitalia’s operations have been disrupted by a general transport sector strike scheduled for June 16. Alitalia was forced to cancel 166 domestic and international flights for June 16 and 11 flights early June 17.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at