Air Italy boosts frequencies after strong summer

Revitalized Air Italy has reported strong summer season passenger loads on its new flights to the US and has announced frequency increases on several of its international routes.

The Sardinia-based carrier, which rebranded from its former identity of Meridiana in March following Qatar Airways’ decision to take a 49% stake in its parent company, AQA Holdings, is in the middle of a major fleet expansion program.

Qatar Airways is leasing five of its Airbus A330-200s to Air Italy this year, replacing aging Boeing 767-300s. The A330s will, in turn, be replaced from May 2019 by new Boeing 787-8s taken from Qatar Airways’ existing orders with the US manufacturer. Air Italy will also receive 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s—again, from Qatar’s orderbook.

The Italian carrier reported Sept. 20 that it had seen strong results from both its new international and domestic route sectors.

Although having only launched services from Milan Malpensa to Miami and New York JFK in June, the airline said it had recorded load factors of more than 90% to both destinations. Services from its Olbia, Sardinia, base to 11 Italian destinations had also racked up more than 500,000 passengers between June and September.

“Beginning our new US flights only several months into the launch of our new brand was always going to be challenging, but we were confident of our business model and in the great new product,” Air Italy COO Neil Mills said.

The results on both the US and domestic routes were “clearly a testament to that conviction, and we are extremely grateful to our passengers for supporting us so wholeheartedly.

“As we now turn eastwards with our launch of Bangkok last Sunday and our imminent launches to Delhi and Mumbai on Oct. 28 and 30, we are equally confident as we balance our network, induct more new aircraft into the fleet and continue to enhance our product and service offering.”

Over the coming winter, Air Italy will increase its Malpensa-JFK services from 5X to 6X-weekly from late October, then go daily from Dec. 1. It will offer 5X-weekly services on Malpensa-Miami.

The carrier has previously announced that its Bangkok route will go from 4X- to 5X-weekly from Oct. 28.

In summer 2019, Malpensa-JFK will remain a daily service, while Miami will drop back to 4X-weekly. Bangkok will remain at 5X-weekly.

Meanwhile, Air Italy’s African destinations will all see additional frequencies for winter 2018-19. Flights from Malpensa to Accra (Ghana) and Lagos (Nigeria) will double to 4X-weekly while Cairo (Egypt) and Dakar (Senegal) will both be served 5X-weekly.

This article first appeared on Air Transport World on 21 Sept. 2018