When we say new, we mean it’s now official. Air Italy experienced a glorious rebirth this week. Qatar Airways has officially launched the new brand, with hopes of becoming Italy’s premier air carrier. And by the sounds of their plans – they just might have a shot. As Alitalia continuously battles bankruptcy, a new player will enter the scene, armed with a seriously powerful fleet and perhaps the best business class seat flying from Europe to the US.
Air Italy is new, again. The airline has long been a part of the Meridiana operation in Italy, but the “new” airline will take Meridiana’s place, cementing Italian branding on this “new” operation. We now say goodbye to Meridiana and hello, again to a new Air Italy. If you’re confused, fear not – Air Italy is the way forward, it’s now 49% owned by Qatar Airways and it will compete with Alitalia and other European carriers. The airline will launch flights between Milan Malpensa, New York and Miami by June. Customers can fully expect aggressive ticket offers in all cabins as the airline roots out it’s new hub in Milan.
Air Italy will immediately begin acquiring brand new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, for primarily regional flights. These deliveries commence in April, so expect to see a new tail in the skies of Europe in the very near future. Qatar Airways invested heavily in Air Italy, and will send five of their Airbus A330 long haul aircraft to cover the airline through 2019. Beginning 2019, Qatar will lease Air Italy 30 of their state of the art new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Yes, 30 of them. That’s an uptick of 26 long haul planes for Meridiana/Air Italy! Expansion? We’d say – big time.
We were in attendance at Qatar Airways delivery of their new Airbus aircraft in Toulouse. During the questions, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker made one interesting remark. He noted that he would not want any of their partner airlines to have an inferior offering, and therefore Air Italy would inherit 787 Dreamliners with a variant of the airlines award winning QSuite business class. The variation for the 787 has yet to be seen, but Akbar Al Baker specifically mentioned delivering Air Italy with a completely private business class seat. Translation: the seat will have a door.
Alitalia is constantly battling bankruptcy and Emirates, a Qatar Airways competitor has added Italian flights with regularity. This is an extremely powerful signal and backing from Qatar Airways, that they mean longterm business in the European and Transatlantic travel markets. Expect to see aggressive offers from Air Italy as they launch their brand in the coming months. Exciting times, indeed.