Meridiana becomes Air Italy aiming to transform into Italy’s flagship carrier

Boeing 737 MAX 8 Air Italy Image by Meridiana/Twitter

Meridiana, Italy’s second largest airline, has unveiled today in Milan its new corporate identity and a major change renaming itself to Air Italy.

This overhaul is backed by Qatar Airways, who bought 49 percent of airline’s shares last year. Over the next three years Air Italy’s fleet will be joined by 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the first of which will arrive in April. Qatar Airways will lease five of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft to back the fleet until May 2019. Afterwards first Boeing 787 Dreamliners will start arriving to complete the fleet. 30 Dreamliners are expected in total.

Headquarters will remain in Olbia, Sardinia but long-haul network will be based out of Milano-Malpensa (MXP) and will launch in June 2018. The first long-haul destinations will be New York-John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Miami (MIA). Within Europe the company is planning to fly as many as 50 destinations by 2022 – London-Gatwick (LGW) and Moscow-Domodedovo (DME) just to name a few. Domestic flights will start on 1 May 2018 connecting Rome-Fiumicino (FCO), Naples (NAP), Palermo (PMO), Catania (CTA) and Lamezia Terme (SUF) to Milano-Malpensa (MXP). Further expansions of flights is planned with first flights to Bangkok (BKK) in September. Some flights will also depart from Rome-Fiumicino (FCO), directly competing with Alitalia.

Presenting the airline’s development plans Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group CEO said “We will show that we are the star. We want to become the number one airline brand in Italy…” The company will hire more than 1500 people and is expecting 10 million passengers by 2022.

— BŠ