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Arrivederci, Air Italy

Arrivederci, Air Italy
Taylor Rains

After only two years of service, Air Italy has ceased operations and gone into liquidation. Flights from February 11th through February 25th will be operated by other carriers, but after that, all flights are canceled, and tickets will be refunded.

What Was Air Italy?

Air Italy was a Milan-based carrier that operated regional flights around Italy, as well as connected the country to many international destinations, such as Cairo, Lagos, Miami, Los Angeles, and New York. The airline was initially born from Italy’s former regional carrier, Meridiana, when Qatar obtained a 49% stake in the company and rebranded it into a long-haul airline.

What Happened?

A combination of things led to the ultimate demise of Air Italy. The company operated 20 737 MAX aircraft until they were grounded in March 2019, forcing the airline to recreate its flight schedule. This became a significant financial burden, and the carrier struggled to turn a profit. The airline reported a financial loss of $179 million in 2018 and $218 million in 2019.

The decision to shut down the airline was made at a shareholder meeting. At the time of liquidation, 51% of the company was owned by Alisarda, while 49% was owned by Qatar. Due to European Union laws, Qatar was only legally allowed to own a minority stake in the airline, which restricted cash flow and investments into the struggling carrier. During the meeting, Qatar made it clear that it was willing to invest more money to keep the airline afloat; however, Alisarda was not interested.

Qatar said in a statement, “Since the acquisition on 28 September 2017 of a minority stake in Air Italy, Qatar Airways has strongly believed in the company and in its potential, supporting management’s proposed business plan with a view to improving Air Italy’s growth and job creation, with the addition of long-haul routes and numerous in-flight service improvements, in line with Qatar Airways’ globally renowned high standards.

Despite our minority shareholder’s role, Qatar Airways has continuously provided all possible support to Air Italy right from the beginning, from releasing aircraft from our fleet and ordering new aircraft for Air Italy, to backing management choices and injecting capital and investment as required and permitted.

Even with the changing competitive environment and the increasingly difficult market conditions severely impacting the air transport industry, Qatar Airways has continually reaffirmed its commitment, as a minority shareholder, to continue investing in the company. Qatar Airways was ready once again to play its part in supporting the growth of the airline, but this would only have been possible with the commitment of all shareholders.”

 

Have an upcoming trip with Air Italy and need advice on what to do next? Head to this forum thread and join the FlyerTalk about Air Italy’s end.

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. af fp

    February 12, 2020 at 5:33 am

    Two thoughts:
    – the name was stupid, it sounded like a litteral translation to English of Alitalia. Copycats.
    – they can definitely sue Boeing for damages and return their seabed-digging MAXes

  2. AJNEDC

    February 12, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Sue Boeing.

  3. FlyingScientist

    February 17, 2020 at 4:25 am

    But “Alitalia” does not translate to “Air Italy”. – “Ali” = “wings”

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