Qatar Airways-backed Air Italy enters liquidation

Photo: © BriYYZ

Qatar Airways-backed carrier Air Italy has entered liquidation and is ceasing operations, the airline announced Tuesday afternoon.

Replacement flights for passengers booked on now-cancelled flights will be operated by other airlines until February 25. Those flights will be carried out using the same schedule as Air Italy, meaning that bookings for this period of time remain valid, the airline says in a statement.

From 11 to 25 February 2020 inclusive, all Air Italy flights will be operated by other carriers at the times and on the days previously scheduled; all passengers who booked flights (outward or return) after 25 February 2020 will be re-protected or fully refunded.Air Italy

Customers due to fly after February 25 can request a refund with the airline. Furthermore, passengers that are returning home after February 25 can request to be booked onto an alternate flight back to Italy.

Air Italy previously operated under the name ‘Meridiana’. It was re-branded to Air Italy in March 2018, when Qatar Airways acquired a 49 percent share in the airline. At the time, the two airlines dragged a lot of attention, with Air Italy even being called ‘Italian Qatar Airways’ due to the seemingly strong cooperation between the airlines and huge expansion visions. A lot of that later turned out to be premature talk from Qatar’s management. At the time, Air Italy told International Flight Network that, despite claims from the Middle Eastern carrier, the new aircraft it had received from Qatar Airways, namely Boeing 737 MAX, were leased for rather expensive conditions.

The Doha-based airline has issued a statement on the liquidation of Air Italy.

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.Qatar Airways

The Italian carrier’s fleet consisted of eight Boeing 737, including the currently grounded 737 MAX, as well as four Airbus A330-200 for long-haul flights. The widebody jets were previously owned by- and leased from Qatar Airways and replaced previously used Boeing 767. Air Italy was initially due to receive a number of Boeing 787 Dreamliner to replace the Airbus jets and further expand its long-haul network. However, this plan was delayed and later given up.

Last month, Ernest Airlines, a smaller Italian airline, suspended operations.