Air Italy will take on Alitalia. Qatar Airways also takes the world’s first A350-1000 and reiterates India plans.
Qatar Airways is pushing deeper into the Italian market to challenge the heavily loss-making national carrier Alitalia, rebranding its minority owned (49%) airline Meridiana as Air Italy.
Air Italy will be based at Milan’s Malpensa Airport and operate a short-haul fleet of 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which will be delivered over the next three years – the first arriving in April.
Air Italy will fly long haul too, initially leasing five of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A330-200s. These will be replaced by Boeing 787-8s from May 2019.
Eventually, Air Italy will boast a fleet of 50 planes including 20 787s.
“Air Italy has an ambition to reach a goal of transporting 10 million passengers per year by 2022 travelling to, from and via Italy. We expect more than 8 million of these to use Milan Malpensa,” claimed chairman Francesco Violante.
Boosting its short-haul network to improve connectivity, Air Italy aims to launch its first long-haul route from Rome Fiumicino in 2019. It plans more than 50 year-round routes and 10 million passengers a year by 2022.
The rebranded airline is pitching to become Italy’s new national carrier, supported by Qatar Airways, with flag carrier Alitalia still deep in bankruptcy proceedings.
The country’s government says it will not act to save Alitalia this time and administrators are in the process of selling it or parts of it to the highest bidder.
World’s first A350-1000
In related news, Airbus has delivered the world’s first A350-1000 widebody aircraft to launch customer Qatar Airways at a delivery event in Toulouse, France.
It is the first of 37 A350-1000s ordered by the carrier and is the first ever Airbus aircraft fitted with “revolutionary” new Qsuite seats, offering the first-ever double bed in business class.
Qatar Airways is the world’s largest A350 XWB-family customer with 76 aircraft on order and is the largest A350-1000 customer.
Speaking in Toulouse, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker reiterated his intention to create a subsidiary in India with more than 100 aircraft.
Keen on India for its market potential, he first mentioned this idea last March but did not expand on any details, in particular about the type of aircraft.