Italian airline Meridiana has changed its name to Air Italy with the backing of its new shareholder Qatar Airways. The airline is looking to become Italy’s flagship carrier as UAE-backed Alitalia undergoes bankruptcy proceedings.
Meridiana started to operate under the 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 airline witnessed 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.
Air Italy will be receiving 20 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the next three years. Qatar Airways will lease five of its Airbus A330-200 to Air Italy “at market prices”, Baker said.