In an emergency meeting held today (11 FEB), the carrier's stakeholders decided to liquidate the Italian airline despite minority owner Qatar Airways' (49%) offer of ongoing financial
Passengers and cargo will not be stranded since all scheduled flights will be operated until 25FEB. Travelers with booked seats for journeys taking place after that date, will be fully refunded or offered alternative transportation by other airlines, Air Italy states on its website.
The former Meridiana and 2018 rebranded Air Italy never managed to build up a reliable international network and serve new routes over longer periods of time despite major announcements from partner QR. The Qataris figured that, given their financial and operational support, Air Italy would benefit from the woes of ill-managed Alitalia, and gradually take over large portions of the Italian aviation market. Yet, these hopes turned to dust today, with the announcement of the carrier's insolvency. Why the company stopped operating so abruptly and without prior warning, remains in the dark. Neither Air Italy nor Qatar Airways gave any reasons.
As a result of the bankruptcy, the Italian aviation market will be redistributed. This will not only please AF-KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss, or Emirates, but also budget airlines such as Easyjet, and some others who are very active there. It could also increase pressure on the government in Rome to stop pouring state money into their notoriously loss-making airline Alitalia, as demanded by the EU, and to sell it to a commercial competitor. German Lufthansa has repeatedly been mentioned in this context, but it demanded the restructuring of AZ as a precondition for a takeover and any investment. So far, this has been rejected by the Italian government on the grounds that axing thousands of jobs at AZ would cause the belligerent Italian trade unions to loudly protest. A risky step, given the unstable political situation in the country.
For Qatar, Air Italy's bankruptcy is quite a setback in their strategy to form a global network by buying into those carriers depending on the Qatari's ongoing financial support. This failed in the case of Cargolux in 2012, when QR returned their 35% stakes in CV to state-controlled Luxembourg financial institutions following insurmountable management differences. It has evidently again failed now, given Air Italy's liquidation.
The Italian airline operated 5 A330-200s leased from Qatar Airways, a single B737-7, and 4 B737-8s. Once all operations cease on 25FEB, their livery will no longer be seen in the sky.
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