Air Italy goes bust after years of losses
Struggling Air Italy, owned by the Aga Khan and Qatar Airways, announced its bankruptcy Tuesday but said it would guarantee flights through February 25, after which tickets would be reimbursed.
The company — formerly called Meridiana — has lost hundreds of millions of euros in the past several years as it has struggled to navigate a competitive industry facing multiple challenges.
Air Italy is held 51 percent by the Aga Khan and 49 percent by Qatar Airways. It employs about 1,200 people.
“From February 11 to 25 inclusive, all Air Italy flights will be guaranteed by other companies at the planned times and days,” said the company in a statement.
Flights scheduled for after February 25 would either be fully reimbursed or rescheduled.
Launched with great fanfare two years ago, Air Italy had hoped to benefit from ongoing problems at rival Alitalia, Italy’s legacy airline, according to business newspaper Il Sole-24 Ore.
Il Sole-24 Ore estimated that Air Italy lost 164 million euros ($179 million) in 2018. Losses continued in 2019, mounting to about 200 million euros, La Repubblica has reported.
In a statement published on Twitter, Qatar Airways said that since it took a minority stake in September 2018, it had “provided all possible support to Air Italy” from ordering new aircraft to injecting new capital, and had been prepared to continue investing in the company.
“For this reason, Qatar Airways was ready once again to play its part in supporting the growth of the airline, but this would only have been possible with the commitment of all shareholders,” Qatar said.
Asked for comment, Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development referred to the Air Italy press release, which states that “shareholders of Air Italy, Alisarda and Qatar Airways, through AQA Holding, have jointly decided due to the persisting and structural difficult market conditions to put the company Air Italy into liquidation in bonis (voluntary liquidation)”.