Part-owned by Qatar Airways, the new airline aims to replace Alitalia, the bankrupt flag carrier that is in the process of being auctioned off to other European airlines.
It is the fusion of Meridiana, Italy’s second-largest airline after Alitalia, and Air Italy, a smaller, northern Italian airline that it purchased in 2011.
The airline’s rebranding is accompanied by an expansion of its fleet and flight routes, expected to draw in 10 million passengers by 2022.
Air Italy plans to double its fleet to 50 by 2020, and expand its domestic services with new connections between Milan and Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme from May.
These additions will be followed by three new international services: daily flights from Milan to New York and four flights a week from Milan to Miami, both starting in June, and from September, four flights weekly from Milan to Bangkok.
Another three new long-haul routes are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
And in 2019, Air Italy will add its first long-haul flights from Rome.
“We’re working to build an efficient airline with high quality services that offers an alternative to Italians and to all international tourists who want to visit Italy,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said.
While Milan Malpensa is the airline’s international hub, its headquarters will remain in Olbia, in Sardinia, Meridiana’s historic home.