Skift Take

Another European airline bows out. Alitalia has once again outlasted one of its purported challengers — now it desperately needs to find a buyer.

Air Italy, the airline that had grand plans to challenge flag carrier Alitalia, is closing.

A message on the company’s website on Tuesday said the company was entering liquidation proceedings following a shareholders meeting.

Between February 11–25, all Air Italy flights will be operated by other carriers; after that date customers will need to apply for a refund.

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The airline looked to have secured a new lease of life when in 2017 Qatar Airways took a 49 percent shareholding in what was then called Meridiana, a regional and leisure-oriented carrier that could trace its history back to the 1960s. The Aga Khan is the majority shareholder with 51 percent of the company.

The airline had a fleet of 12 and served a mixture of short- and long-haul destinations, including a number of cities in the United States. It became embroiled in a row with three major U.S. carriers over flying rights last year.

Rival Alitalia itself is still searching for a buyer and is only surviving thanks to a government loan.

Air Italy is the latest in a string of airline failures in recent years.

Recent European Airline Failures

Germania 1978 Feb-2019 Germany
BMI Regional 1987 Feb-2019 UK
Wow Air 2011 Mar-2019 Iceland
Aigle Azur 1946 Sep-2019 France
Thomas Cook Airlines* 1999 Sep-2019 UK
XL Airways 1995 Sep-2019 France
Adria Airways 1961 Sep-2019 Slovenia
†Ernest Airlines 2015 Jan-2020 Italy
Air Italy 1963 Feb-2020 Italy
*Some Thomas Cook Group airlines are still flying
†Ernest Airlines operations are currently suspended

In a statement, Qatar Airways implied that it had been willing to keep supporting the airline but did not have the backing of other shareholders.

“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 traveling 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,” the company said in a statement.

“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.”

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Tags: air italy, alitalia, europe

Photo credit: An Air Italy Airbus A330-200. the airline is shutting down. BriYYZ / Flickr

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