Lufthansa has launched an Italian subsidiary based in Milan and will begin services to the city four times a day from Heathrow at the end of March.

The German airline’s move comes as Italian carrier Alitalia remains in bankruptcy protection as it undergoes privatisation and a restructuring that will lead to a significant reduction in its network.

Lufthansa Italia will commence operations at Milan Malpensa on February 2 with a fleet of six aircraft. It will fly from Barcelona and Paris Charles de Gaulle to begin, adding services from Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest and Madrid in early March, and from Heathrow and Lisbon at the end of that month.

Fares from Heathrow will start from £49 one way.

Lufthansa UK general manager Marianne Sammann said: “We will offer a frequent non-stop service with the usual Lufthansa quality.”

Alitalia has cancelled several services between Heathrow and Milan Linate over the next few days.