MILAN (AP) — Alitalia chairman Luca Montezemolo has confirmed the Italian flagship airline's goal to reach profitability by 2017, saying "we'll do it by tooth and nail, and with the desire to change."

Montezemolo said Tuesday in Rome that the resignation of the airline's CEO after nine months will not hinder the plans for change. He said there was continuity in executing the business plan put in place when Abu Dhabi-based Etihad took control last year with a 49 percent stake.

Executives said the airline's cash position was strong and that revenues were picking up, while the airline's load factor topped 80 percent this year for the first time since 2007. The airline plans to invest 190 million euros in new planes over the next 18 months, along with new routes.