Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. was established on 16 September 1946 as Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali (Italian International Airlines). It was formed as a result of an Anglo-Italian agreement and was funded by the Italian government and British European Airways (BEA) in a 60/40 share arrangement with a capital of 900 million lire (£1,000,000).

Its popular name, Alitalia, blended the Italian words ali (wings) and Italia (Italy). It started operations on 5 May 1947.

In 1967, Alitalia was selected to run the airline after Zambia Airways‘s splitting from Central African Airways (CAA) later that year. Pan African Air Services and Flying Tiger Line also participated as bidders for the management contract.

In July, a new airport was inaugurated in Lusaka. On 1 September 1967, following the Zambia Airways Act, which appointed the carrier to operate both domestically and internationally after the collapse of CAA, Zambia Airways Corporation was formed in order to take over Zambia Airways, the former CAA’s subsidiary. Technical and management assistance was provided by Alitalia.

By 1975, the contract with Alitalia was cancelled and a similar one was signed with Aer Lingus.