“We look forward to working together to reinforce its position to provide even more connectivity to Italy and other European destinations, as well as those in the US and beyond,” al-Baker said. Qatar Airways has further strengthened its commitment to Italy with the acquisition of 49% of AQA Holding, while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda has kept 51%.
Qatar Airways currently flies from Doha to Rome, Venice, Pisa and Milan. A total of 42 flights per week and this partnership will further strengthen the airline’s ties to Italy, while promoting job creation within the country, and from where it connects passengers to more than 150 destinations around the world. Under the terms of the contribution and shareholders’ agreement signed in July 2016, Alisarda maintains the right to appoint the majority of the Board members.
Following the closing, the shareholders’ meetings of AQA Holding and Meridiana appointed the new board of directors. Alisarda’s chairman Marco Rigotti has been appointed chairman of AQA Holding while Francesco Violante is the new chairman of Meridiana. Violante has previously been the chief executive officer of SITA until end of June 2016, leaving in at the end October after a very successful 13 years.
In due course, the new plan for Meridiana will be announced and the new chief executive officer will be appointed. In the meanwhile, Rigotti will retain the executive powers as deputy chairman. Rigotti, said, “I am really grateful to Minister Delrio for his determined and tireless support, encouragement and strong belief in the project. We are thrilled to begin this partnership project with the world’s best airline. We are now working on an ambitious business plan, with the aim to offer to the passengers’ new destinations and the highest level of satisfaction. I warmly welcome Francesco and I am delighted that he accepted to be part of this challenging and exciting venture.”
Violante, said, “I am very delighted that the shareholders appointed me as chairman of Meridiana board. I am excited to be part of this new venture with the aim of building a strong airline in Italy and in the European market. My priorities will be to create value for the shareholders, to help the management and all the staff to achieve the new business plan and to make our passengers happy to travel with us.” Meridiana is the second largest Italian carrier, with an extensive network, which connects the main Italian airports with Sardinia and provides connectivity with hubs in Europe, as well as in the US and Africa. Meridiana’s fleet consists of Boeing 737s, 767s and MD-82s.