Air Italy has announced it will cease flights from 25 February and go into liquidation after it failed to receive the backing to continue operating from all of its shareholders.
Minority shareholder Qatar Airways said it had been prepared “once again to play its part in supporting the growth of the airline”, but that “this would only have been possible with the commitment of all shareholders”.
Air Italy flights scheduled between now and 25 February (including the first departures on the morning of 26 February on some routes) will be operated by other carriers but at their original scheduled dates and times. Passengers will be able to use their existing ticket and will not need to make changes to their bookings.
Passengers due to fly after 25 February will be refunded or booked onto alternative flights with other airlines where possible.
Air Italy was created following a restructuring of former carrier Meridiana, at which time Qatar Airways acquired a 49 per cent stake in the airline.
The acquisition was often criticised by US carriers, who accused Qatar Airways of using its stake to get around a US-Qatar open skies agreement.
Commenting on the decision to close down following a meeting of shareholders, a spokesperson for Qatar Airways said: “Since the acquisition on 28 September 2017 of a minority stake in Air Italy, Qatar Airways has strongly believed in the company and in its potential, supporting management’s proposed business plan with a view to improving Air Italy’s growth and job creation, with the addition of long-haul routes and numerous in-flight service improvements, in line with Qatar Airways’ globally renowned high standards.
“Despite out minority shareholder’s role, Qatar Airways has continuously provided all possible support to Air Italy right from the beginning, from releasing aircraft from our fleet and ordering new aircraft for Air Italy, to backing management choices and injecting capital and investment as required and permitted.
“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 stakeholder, 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 because for Qatar Airways the focus on employees is a core priority in its strive for excellence – in addition to supporting local communities and other stakeholders.”