One of the most popular travel destinations in the world, Italy does not appear to be a healthy market for airlines. Even with such potential, companies in the country are struggling to stay active, as can be seen by the long crisis of Alitalia, their flagship airline, which has failed to get companies interested in taking over it.
And just a new initiative that aimed to take advantage of Alitalia’s situation has just succumbed. Air Italy, an airline launched in 2018 by the groups Alisarda and Qatar Airways, announced on Thursday the end of its operations.
Passengers who had purchased tickets by February 25 will be boarded on flights operated by other companies, after which there will be a refund of the amounts paid, Air Italy said.
With only 12 planes and few routes, Air Italy had several problems while operating, a very different panorama from the promises of its executives two years ago, when the airline was announced as the successor of Meridiana, a company focused on charter flights.
At the time, the intention was to occupy space left by Alitalia. “Air Italy aims to be a leader in the global industry, thanks to its hub at Milan’s Malpensa airport, reinforced by our base in Fiumicino (Rome) and also thanks to our original base on the Costa Smeralda, which is also the headquarters of the company “, said Marco Rigotti.
In reality, however, Air Italy began its career by making a mistake in choosing its fleet. When it debuted, the company had 737NG and 767 jets, but announced that it would receive the 787 Dreamliner and 737 Max, both provided by Qatar.
While waiting for the Dreamliner and which never arrived, the company started to perform long-range flights with Airbus A330-200 widebodies. The 737 Max was delivered, one of the first in Europe, but unfortunately for Air Italy the aircraft was grounded last year.
The company’s strategy was also confusing, with the opening and closing of new routes without prior notice. In addition, Air Italy was still accused by US airlines of being an operation disguised as Qatar in the country – it flew to New York and Miami.
Even when closing Air Italy, its partners showed no synergy. Qatar Airways, which made a point of repeating being a minority in the society, reiterated that it supported as it can for the Italian airline to survive, but “this would only have been possible with the commitment of all shareholders”.