Qatar Airways set to codeshare with Air Italy on Asia, Africa and Far East routes: Al-Baker

Qatar Airways will codeshare with Air Italy to Asia, Africa and Far East, Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said. “Air Italy is an independent airline; it is a European carrier. It will be operating out of Europe with no connection with Qatar Airways, except that our passengers will be able to travel on Meridiana to exchange tickets between Air Italy and Qatar Airways and we will codeshare with that airline to Asia, Africa and Far East,” al-Baker told Gulf Times yesterday.

Asked whether Air Italy will be flying to the GCC region or the Middle East, al-Baker said, “It is an airline independently deciding on its network. And the management of the airline will decide where they want to fly. It is not up to Qatar Airways to tell them what they have to do. “Qatar Airways is a minority shareholder, and not a majority shareholder in the airline,” al-Baker emphasised. Qatar Airways previously strengthened its commitment to Italy (in 2017) with the acquisition of 49% of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Air Italy, while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda kept 51%.

Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker and national employees of Qatar Airways Group with the Qatari flag in front of the Airbus A350-1000, the airline’s and the world’s first such commercial aircraft. PICTURES: Nasar T K

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 May 2019. Network destinations will also enjoy continued expansion, with new long-range routes from Milan to New York and Miami already announced recently, which 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.

Further plans also include strengthening the short-range network to improve connectivity and launching of the first long-range destination from Rome Fiumicino in 2019.  Air Italy aims to fly more than 50 year-round routes by 2022. Al-Baker had said at a recent media event in Milan that “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.”

Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times