Air Italy ceased operations with immediate effect on February 11 after its shareholders, Alisarda and Qatar Airways through AQA Holding, chose to liquidate the company citing “persistent and structural market problems”.
A statement on Air Italy’s website advised that scheduled services would be maintained until February 25, albeit operated by other airlines. All flights after this date have been cancelled and bookings refunded.
Qatar Airways, which held a 49% stake in the carrier, advised it was willing to continue supporting the Italian airline: “Even with the changing competitive environment and the increasingly difficult market conditions severely impacting the air transport industry, Qatar Airways has continually reaffirmed its commitment, as a minority shareholder, to continue investing in the company to create value for Italy and the travelling public and to provide support for Air Italy and its staff… For Qatar Airways the focus on employees is a core priority, in addition to supporting local communities and other stakeholders.”
Air Italy posted losses of €164m in 2018 and anticipated €230m in 2019, according to majority shareholder Alisarda.
The Italian firm’s fleet was made up of 12 jets including four ex-Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200s on lease from Castlelake. It had also inherited three Boeing 737-800s and a sole 737-700 from its predecessor, Meridiana, while four 737 MAX 8s were delivered prior to the type’s grounding in March 2019.
The Milan/Malpensa-based carrier is the second Italian airline, following Ernest Airlines, to suspend operations this year.