The New Air Italy To Fly East
One of the interesting novelties in the European airline landscape this start of the year has been the re-launch and re-branding as Air Italy of the airline formerly known as Meridiana, now under Qatar Airways corporate and financial umbrella (the Gulf airline owns 49% of the parent company of Air Italy).
This is quite a bold move on the side of Qatar Airways, considering how deep pockets were not enough for Etihad to turn rival Alitalia into a financially sound, competitive company.
Air Italy, that will keep Meridiana's old designator "IG", is embarking shortly in a fleet renewal programme that will see it receive new Boeing 737 MAX as well as A330s and Boeing 787s Dreamliners to cover a route network that will be a mix of domestic and long haul routes (the later with a strong leisure destination component).
The new brand is also a strong departure from Meridiana's traditional image, with its red, white and dark blue colours and round logo over a red background. Although I liked the old logo and the name (quite original for an airline!), this is possibly allright, since, although colourful, it had already become a bit as dated as its fleet (Meridiana had been an iconic DC-9, MD80 family aircraft operator, with some of the latter remaining in service until as late as 2017).
(Those acquainted with the old Meridiana may enjoy this nostalgic video below)
Thus, an interesting airline project that has already started announcing some operational moves, such as the launch of new routes to Russia. In particular, Air Italy will connect Moscow Domodedovo with Milan Malpensa as well as Olbia, in Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, Meridiana's (And now Air Italy's) historical base.
At the Russian end of the route, Air Italy will count on a codeshare agreement with Russian airline S7 to funnel traffic to and from other Russian cities.