The Costa Concordia wreckage has emerged from the water for the first time in two and a half years, as engineers successfully commence salvage operations.

“The ship is floating and is well balanced,” Costa Cruises chief executive Micheal Thamm said at a press conference.

“I think we’ve seen a great start to this operations. Let’s move forward.”

Over the past ten months engineers have been attaching sponsons – metal boxes used to stabilise – to either side of the vessel.

Yesterday, they pumped air into those boxes, raising the bow around two metres and the stern four metres.

The ship was then tugged about 30 metres to the east.

“I would say we are halfway through our plan to move the ship,” engineer in charge of operations, Franco Porcellachia said.

“When deck three re-emerges, we are in the final stage and ready for departure.”

Over the next few days, divers will attach chains and cables to secure the ship’s rusted underbelly.

They will then lift the ship up deck-by-deck and clear out debris from each level.

She will then slowly be towed 200 miles to the Port of Genoa in Italy where she will be dismantled and recycled.

The towing process is expected to commence on 21 July.

In the meantime, divers are using the ship’s new raised position to search for the missing remains of Russel Rebello.

The 33-year-old Indian waiter is the only victim whose remains are yet to be recovered.

He was last seen assisting with evacuation when the ship hit rocks off the coast of Giglio Italy in January 2012.

Divers are hoping to find his body before the ship is towed away.

Earlier this month, Mr Thamm told a German newspaper removal operations will cost the company over $1.5 billion euros.

He said so far costs have exceeding $1 billion euros, but that doesn’t include the 100 million for dismantling and scrapping plus repair to the damage of Giglio Island.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino is still in trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before evacuation of all passengers.

Click here to go inside the Costa Concordia wreckage.