Qatar Airways-Backed Meridiana Changes Name to Air Italy

Al Jazeera

Italian airline Meridiana changed its name to Air Italy on Monday with the backing of its new shareholder Qatar Airways, aiming to become Italy’s flagship carrier as UAE-backed Alitalia undergoes bankruptcy proceedings.

Meridiana was put under new ownership last year after Qatar Airways bought a 49 percent stake in AQA Holding, with the previous owner Alisarda retaining 51 percent.

Air Italy is now the country’s second-largest airline behind Alitalia, which was mainly backed by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.

However the carrier started bankruptcy proceedings last year for the second time in a decade, after saying it will no longer invest in the faltering airline.

Air Italy’s new restructuring plan aims to become Italy’s “airline of reference”, said Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar al-Baker.

“We will show that we are the star,” said Baker, presenting the airline’s development plans in Italy.

Over the next three years, 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be added to Air Italy’s fleet, the first of which arrives in April.

Meridiana said it will carry 10 million passengers and expand its fleet with 50 new planes.

Qatar Airways will lease five of its Airbus A330-200 to Air Italy “at market prices”, Baker said.

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