Plans for latest Italian airline brand are announced

20 / 02 / 2018

Air Italy, the new brand of the carrier formerly known as Sardinia-based Meridiana, has announced that it is to launch “an exciting new phase of growth and development”.

It is to be a “sustainable airline alternative for the people of Italy”.

Air Italy’s holding company is AQA Holding, in which Meridiana’s previous sole shareholder Alisarda has a 51% share and Doha-based flag-carrier Qatar Airways holds a 49% stake.

Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker and Marco Rigotti, chairman of Alisarda and AQA Holding, have unveiled Air Italy’s new brand identity and presented the new airline business plan.

Air Italy expects to be flying approximately 50 aircraft by 2022, and has already committed to acquiring 20 new Boeing B737 Max aircraft type from April over the subsequent  three years from April this year.

Air Italy also expects to take delivery of five Airbus A330-200 aircraft this year from Qatar Airways’ fleet, prior to these being further replaced by B787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft from May 2019.

The carrier’s route network is expected to expand commensurately. New, long-range routes from Milan to New York (daily) and Miami (four times a week) had previously been announced as launching in June, and to those will be added new short-haul services connecting Milan to Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme.

Longer term plans include inaugurating the first long-range destination from Rome Fiumicino in 2019. Air Italy hopes to be flying on more than 50 year-round routes by 2022.

Rigotti said: “Over the last 10 years Meridiana has witnessed the radical transformation of the European aviation industry, characterised by a fierce competition

“Air Italy aims to be a leader in the global industry, thanks to the airline’s hub in Milan Malpensa, and the reinforced base of Rome Fiumicino, alongside the seasonal network from Olbia’s Costa Smeralda heritage base which is also the headquarters of the airline.”

Meanwhile, Italian flag-carrier Alitalia continues its existence in extraordinary administration. A restructuring plan was rejected last year and the Italian government is still in the process of finding a buyer for the long-suffering airline.