Air Italy will stop flying on 25 February

Feb 11, 2020

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Air Italy will close its doors on 25 February, two years after the brand was launched following an investment by Qatar Airways.

The Milan-based carrier’s flights will be “operated by other carriers” at their scheduled times through 25 February with its first domestic departures and those from the Maldives (MLE) and Dakar, Senegal (DSS) on 26 February being its last flights, Air Italy told customers on its website Tuesday.

Based on Air Italy’s website, its U.S. flights to Miami (MIA) and New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) from Milan Malpensa (MXP) will operate through 25 February.

Passengers with flights booked after 25 February can contact the airline for a refund, Air Italy said.

The demise of Air Italy marks the first shut down of an airline-of-note in 2020. Last year, a number of notable names including the U.K.’s Thomas Cook and Iceland’s Wow Air closed their doors.

Air Italy is primarily a domestic carrier with nearly three-quarters of its seats flown in Italy in January, according to Cirium schedule data. However, its route map stretches as far afield as the Maldives and it had plans to fly to both Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) later this year.

Air Italy's route map in February 2020. (Image courtesy of Air Italy)
Air Italy’s route map in February 2020. (Image courtesy of Air Italy)

Air Italy rose in prominence after Qatar Airways bought a 49% stake in then-named Meridiana in 2017. The carrier was rebranded Air Italy in early 2018 with plans to grow rapidly with a fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing 737 MAX jets.

“Malpensa is in a region which is really the economic heart of Italy, and has not been the hub for Italy. The hub for Italy is Paris and Munich. It is now our duty towards the Italian people as a shareholder of Air Italy to establish a very strong hub”, Qatar CEO Akbar al Baker told TPG on the airline’s ambitions for Air Italy in a May 2018 interview.

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Despite these ambitions, Air Italy’s growth was hampered by the worldwide MAX grounding last March, and financial losses.

The decision to liquidate was made by both Air Italy’s shareholders Alisarda, the Italian firm owning a majority 51% stake in the carrier, and Qatar Airways, according to the notice to passengers.

However, in its own statement Qatar Airways said it “continually reaffirmed its commitment… to continue investing in the company,” but that continued growth was only possible “with the commitment of all shareholders.”

Featured image by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

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