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Meridiana officially becomes the new Air Italy today, retires the last MD-80

Meridiana Boeing 737-84P WL EI-IGN (msn 35074) LGW (SPA). Image: 925445.

Meridiana on March 1, 2018 officially became the new version of Air Italy. The old Air Italy (below) was also officially disbanded as an airline entity. It had been leasing aircraft to Meridiana under the Meridiana brand.

Air Italy (2nd) Boeing 767-304 ER I-AIGG (msn 28041) YYC (Chris Sands). Image: 935106.

Above Copyright Photo: Air Italy (2nd) Boeing 767-304 ER I-AIGG (msn 28041) YYC (Chris Sands). Image: 935106.

The company issued this statement:

As anticipated during the press conference held in Milan on February,19th , and following the effectiveness of the sale of the aviation business unit of Air Italy to Meridiana fly, today the company has been renamed “AIR ITALY” SpA.

The integration of the two airlines operational activities, with the consequent unification of the personnel and of the respective organizational structures, is now completed, also thanks to ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority) personnel, who fully supported AIR ITALY on technical and administration procedures.

The first long haul flight of the new AIR ITALY, IG3254, departed on March 1, 2018 at 02.00 (Italian local time) from Milan Malpensa Airport to International Abeid Amani Karume airport of Zanzibar, while the first domestic flight IG1111 from Olbia to Rome Fiumicino left the Costa Smeralda airport at 07.00 am.

The integration of the operating structures of the two carriers in the new AIR ITALY S.p.A. will deliver a better and more efficient organization focused on two main bases, Olbia for short-haul flights and Milan Malpensa for international and intercontinental flights. The currently operating Boeing 737 (top) and Boeing 767 aircraft will maintain the Meridiana livery until their phase out, while from next spring 3 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (below) and 5 Airbus A330-200 will join the fleet with the new AIR ITALY livery.

The historical “IG” code remains; it distinguished the company’s activity since its establishment in 1963, as Alisarda, transporting over 100 million passengers.

The start of the new AIR ITALY has coincided with the exit from the fleet of I-SMER, the last of the 18 MD-80 aircraft of the same series, that over 30 years have been protagonists of the history of Alisarda / Meridiana and through out the journeys of its loyal passengers. Airport and staff employees have saluted the take-off from the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport.

Top Copyright Photo: Meridiana Boeing 737-84P WL EI-IGN (msn 35074) LGW (SPA). Image: 925445.

Meridiana aircraft slide show:

Air Italy (2nd) aircraft slide show:

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Meridiana adopts the Air Italy name, aims to be the airline of Italy

Meridiana Boeing 737-84P WL EI-IGN (msn 35074) LGW (SPA). Image: 925445.

Meridiana fly fully acquired Air Italy (2nd) in October 2011. By April 2013, Air Italy had been fully merged into Meridiana fly, which decided to adopt the shorter Meridiana name once again.

Now under the guidance of new partner Qatar Airways, the company is reverting back and will adopt the Air Italy brand as the new stylist airline of Italy.

On February 19, 2018 the airline formally made this announcement:

Meridiana, Italy’s long established privately owned airline, has announced an exciting new phase of growth and development with its new identity as Air Italy.

During a press conference in Milan, Mr. Marco Rigotti, Chairman of Alisarda and AQA Holding; His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways; Mr. Sultan Allana of Alisarda and AKFED and Mr. Francesco Violante, Chairman of Meridiana, unveiled Air Italy’s fresh and modern brand identity and presented the new airline business plan, focusing on excellent passenger experience and the next generation of traveller, aimed at positioning itself as Italy’s leading airline.

Air Italy aims to have approximately 50 aircraft by 2022 and is already committed to receiving 20 of the brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft type from April 2018, over the next three years. Air Italy will also receive five Airbus A330-200 aircraft this year from the Qatar Airways’ fleet, prior to these being further replaced by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, commencing in May 2019.

Network destinations will also enjoy continued expansion, with new long-range routes from Milan to New York and Miami already announced recently, that will soon be followed by new short-haul routes connecting Milan and the airline’s long range destinations to Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme. In September 2018 Air Italy will be launching four weekly flights from Milan to Bangkok. Three additional long-haul destinations will be opened by the end of the year.

Further plans also include strengthening the short-range network to improve connectivity and launching the first long-range destination from Rome Fiumicino in 2019. Air Italy aims to fly more than 50 year-round routes by 2022.

Commenting on the new airline identity and developments, Chairman of Alisarda, Mr. Marco Rigotti, said: “Our ambition is strong now as it has been throughout our history, starting with the aim of assisting in the development of tourism in Costa Smeralda and, later, to develop the leisure and charter Italian market place.

“Over the last 10 years Meridiana has witnessed the radical transformation of the European aviation industry, characterised by a fierce competition. Air Italy aims to be a leader in the global industry, thanks to the airline’s hub in Milan Malpensa, and the reinforced base of Rome Fiumicino, alongside the seasonal network from Olbia’s Costa Smeralda heritage base which is also the headquarters of the airline”.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, commented: “Qatar Airways is known the world over as the best airline in the world, as voted for in Skytrax 2017. It is with this ambition and dedication to the passenger experience that we will work together to build a sustainable airline alternative for the people of Italy and global travellers to and from this beautiful country”.

“With high quality and an affordable schedule of services in the domestic, regional and intercontinental segments, Air Italy will achieve global scale in both fleet and network expansion, offering high-quality premium class products across all flights on a modern fleet.”

Qatar Airways previously strengthened its commitment to Italy in 2017 with the acquisition of 49 percent of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Air Italy, while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda kept 51 percent.

Meridiana’s Chairman, Francesco Violante, commented: “Air Italy has an ambition to reach a goal of transporting 10 million passengers per year by 2022 traveling to, from and via Italy. We expect more than 8 million of these to use Milan Malpensa airport. In support of this ambition, there is a great need to develop new skills and competences amongst our people and for all to embrace change as a fantastic opportunity. I wholeheartedly support this new effort.”

Meridiana has carried more than 100 million passengers to date as full-service carrier, operating both short-haul and long-haul flights. The Company has more than 1,400 dedicated employees, maintains codeshare partnerships with other major airlines, and is a full member of IATA and the largest airline at Olbia Costa Smeralda airport.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by Air Italy): Meridiana Boeing 737-84P WL EI-IGN (msn 35074) LGW (SPA). Image: 925445.

Meridiana aircraft slide show: