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Meridiana relaunched as Air Italy with Alitalia in its sights

Meridiana has been relaunched as Air Italy, the chief executive of shareholder Qatar Airways announced today in Milan.

Akbar Al Baker pitches the "new airline" as a direct competitor to Alitalia, outlining a rapid expansion programme involving several new domestic and international services.

Air Italy will take 20 Boeing 737 Max 8s plus five Airbus A330s over the next three years, on lease from Qatar Airways "at market rate". It will also take 20 787s, bringing its fleet to 50 aircraft.

It will be based at Milan Malpensa airport.

"Qatar Airways fully supports plans [for Air Italy] to be the flag carrier of Italy," Al Baker says.

The airline will offer business-class cabins alongside its economy offering.

It will codeshare with Qatar Airways on a number of routes.

Qatar Airways took a 49% stake in Meridiana last year. The remainder is held by Alisarda.

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