Share purchase heralds board shake-up at Meridiana Fly

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Investment firm Meridiana has consolidated its ownership of Italian airline Meridiana Fly with the acquisition of the shares in the carrier held by the former owners of Air Italy.

In all, Meridiana has purchased around 38.71% of the airline's shares, which had been acquired by three companies - Marchin Investments, Pathfinder and Zain Holding - as part of the 2011 takeover of Air Italy.

Meridiana now holds a 89.91% stake in Meridiana Fly.

As a condition of the share repurchase agreement, the carrier also has a new chief executive, following the 21 January resignation of Giuseppe Gentile. He is succeeded by Roberto Scaramella, the aviation director of AKFED, the majority owner of Meridiana.

Chief operating officer Alessandro Notari has also tendered his resignation. A replacement has yet to be announced.

The holding company warns that future recapitalisation of Meridiana Fly may be necessary given the airline's difficult financial position, but reaffirmed its support for the carrier.

It says it will shortly begin talks with Italy's civil aviation regulator ENAC, which on 11 January revoked Meridiana Fly's operating licence and replaced it with a temporary permit, "to collectively plan the re-issuance of a permanent licence".

Gentile, Notari, and two others, Carlo Rota and Mario Porcaro, have resigned as members of the airline's board, effective 13 February.