Italy's Minister of Transport, Graziano del Rio, has confirmed the Qatar diplomatic crisis has resulted in delays in the signing of a 49/51 joint-venture between Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) and Meridiana fly (IG, Olbia).

The Qatari carrier had until June 30 to contribute EUR39.2 million (USD41.5 million) to Meridiana's new holding company, Aqa Holding, as part of the deal. Despite the mid-year deadline, the deal was expected to be finalized by May.

"The finalization of the Meridiana deal was imminent until this big diplomatic problem with Qatar erupted," del Rio told Italy's ANSA news agency. "We hope that this situation resolves itself soon in a way that also leads to the rapid conclusion of the Meridiana deal as we had been ready to do."

At last month's 2017 Paris Air Show, al-Baker told reporters that Qatar Airways would place an unspecified number of B737-8s with Meridiana sourced from its LOI with Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare) for sixty.

Given the current uncertainty facing Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), Italy's government is under intense public pressure to ensure the Meridiana/Qatar Airways deal proceeds in a smooth manner retaining as many jobs as possible.