Airlines Qatar Airways unveils plans for Meridiana

  • Meridiana Facebook

Qatar Airways has announced to rebrand Meridiana into Air Italy.

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During a press conference, held on February 19, 2018, Qatar Airways has presented the new brand name and livery for its latest acquisition. The Gulf carrier had acquired 49% of Italy’s second largest airline in September 2017.

Meridiana will now be rebranded into Air Italy, which is currently a subsidiary of Meridiana. During the press conference, Qatar Airways and Meridiana’s management announced plans to develop the airline into Italy’s flag carrier with a fleet of over 50 aircraft in 2022.

In a first step, the new carrier plans to develop Milan Malpensa as its primary hub, offering long-haul operations to the US destinations Miami and New York JFK. Additionally, the carrier will connect its new hub with Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (4 weekly flights) later this year. By adding several new short-and medium-haul flights to its Milan network, the carrier plans to offer a higher connectivity for Italian travelers. Meridiana and Qatar Airways will increase the number of codeshare flights to further increase connectivity. In 2019, the carrier plans to commence long-haul operations from Rome FCO airport.

Meridiana will renew its fleet and replace older aircraft in the next years. As a first airline in Italy, Meridiana will receive the first of 20 ordered Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in April 2018. The new jets will replace the eight older Boeing 737-700 and B737-800. For its long-haul operations, Qatar Airways will provide five Airbus A330-200, which should commence operations in April as well. The jets could replace the four aging Boeing 767-300ER, Meridiana is currently operating. As stated in the press conference, Qatar Airways plans to lease an undefined number of Boeing B787-8 Dreamliner to its Italian subsidiary in May 2019.

Qatar Airways is the second Gulf carrier, which invests into an Italian carrier. Etihad had acquired 49% in Italy’s flag carrier Alitalia in 2014. The airline, which is facing financial problems, was forced to file for bankruptcy in April 2017. After the insolvency of the second European Etihad acquisition Air Berlin, Etihad’s only remaining European subsidiary is Air Serbia.

As currently no buyer for Alitalia could be found, Qatar Airways approach to develop Air Italy into a new flag carrier could become a successful business model. Meridiana offers a lower cost structure which could allow the carrier to compete with the growing number of low cost carriers on the Italian airline market.

Source © Air Italy Facebook

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