Two years ago, Qatar Airways announced they would start investing in Meridiana, Italy’s second largest airline. Meridiana has a modest fleet of just 12 planes, consisting of 737s and 767s. Qatar Airways now own 49% of Meridiana and they plan to make it Italy’s “national airline.”
The new plans also come with a name change. Meridiana has unveiled at a press conference in Milan its all-new image and corporate identity, changing its name to Air Italy. “We will show that we are the star,” said Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, presenting the airline’s development plans. The new carrier, which will be based in Olbia (Sardinia), intends to become the new leader in Italy with a brand-new fleet of 20 Boeing 737 MAX and 30 787 Dreamliners, all of which will be leased at regular market prices, according to Qatar Airways’ CEO.
I flew Meridiana in September, from Palmas de Mallorca to Rome. I’ve also booked some flights for family members since they do direct flights from JFK to Naples in the summer. Their planes are definitely old, so this will be a major overhaul. They already had some Air Italy branded items on board, which is a brand they acquired years ago. With their new goal of becoming Italy’s national airline, it makes sense to also go with Air Italy as their name.