Meridiana, the second largest Italian airline company has changed its name to Air Italy with the backing of its new shareholder, Qatar Airways, and moves its headquarters from Sardinia to Milan Malpensa.
Thanks to a code-share agreement between Qatar Airways and Meridiana the newly established Air Italy expects its fleet to grow to 50 aircraft by 2020.
Air Italy has announced that, as part of its fleet growth plan, it will add 20 new Boeing 737 Max 8s within the next three years beginning from April of this year, plus five Airbus A330s on lease from Qatar Airways. The Airbus aircraft will only act as a stopgap until May 2019 when Air Italy will receive its new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.
Air Italy’s expansion plan includes long-haul routes departing from its new hub in Milan to New York and Miami starting as early as June 2018. From September there will also be a newly announced Milan to Bangkok route starting with four flights a week. At the same time, Air Italy will try to strengthen its domestic short-haul position by opening up routes from Milan to Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme. Three additional long-haul routes will be announced later this year. Air Italy‘s long-term plan is to fly to 50 destinations by 2022.
In 2019 Air Italy will announce the first long-haul route departing from Rome. Qatar Airways has recently strengthened its business commitment in Italy by completing the acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in AQA Holding, the new controlling shareholder of Air Italy. Alisarda, previously the sole shareholder, holds 51per cent of the share capital of AQA Holding.
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