Meridiana Rebrands As Air Italy To Tackle Alitalia
Italian airline Meridiana, minority owned by Qatar Airways, is rebranding as Air Italy as it moves to take on ailing national carrier Alitalia.
Air Italy will be based at Milan’s Malpensa Airport and operate a short-haul fleet of 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to be delivered over the next three years, with the first arriving in April.
For long-haul destinations the airline will initially lease five Airbus A330-200s from parent Qatar Air. These will be replaced by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners from May 2019.
The new airline is planning an eventual fleet of 50 aircraft, including 20 787s, chairman Francesco Violante said.
“Air Italy has an ambition to reach a goal of transporting 10 million passengers per year by 2022 travelling to, from and via Italy. We expect more than 8 million of these to use Milan Malpensa airport,” Violante said.
Air Italy plans to boost its short-haul network to improve connectivity, and launch its first long-haul route from Rome Fiumicino Airport in 2019. The airline aims to fly more than 50 year-round routes by 2022.
The rebranded airline is pitching to become Italy’s national carrier, with current flag carrier Alitalia mired in bankruptcy proceedings. The Italian government has said it will not step in to save Alitalia this time and administrators are in the process of selling off the airline or its parts to the highest bidder.
Qatar Air’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said his airline supports Air Italy’s push to become the national carrier.
Meridiana is owned by AQA Holding, which in turn is 49 percent owned by Qatar Airways and 51 percent by the airline’s previous owner, Alisarda.