Meridiana fly (IG, Olbia) has formally defined its growth and development plan which will see it being rebranded as Air Italy (IG, Milan Malpensa) over the coming months.

Unveiled during a press conference in Milan on Monday, February 19, the plan will see AirItaly aim to operate approximately 50 aircraft by 2022. Of the fifty, twenty B737-8s will deliver from April 2018 through to 2021. AirItaly will also take delivery of five A330-200s this year beginning in spring. These will, in turn, be replaced by twenty B787-8s, commencing May 2019. The aircraft will be leased from Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l), which owns 49% of the carrier's AQA Holding parent, "at market rate". In total, AirItaly expects to operate a total of eight new aircraft this year, namely three B737 MAX 8s and five A330-200s.

In terms of network operations, AirItaly will develop Milan Malpensa as its primary hub with new longhaul connections to New York JFK and Miami Int'l already set to launch this June. These will be followed by a 4x weekly service to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi in September of this year. Feed into Milan will be enhanced through the development of flights to Rome Fiumicino, Naples Int'l, Palermo, Catania, and Lamezia Terme. The first longhaul flights out of Rome Fiumicino are due to launch in 2019. In total, AirItaly aims to fly more than 50 year-round routes by 2022.

“Our ambition is strong now as it has been throughout our history, starting with the aim of assisting in the development of tourism in Costa Smeralda and, later, to develop the leisure and charter Italian market," the Chairman of Alisarda, Marco Rigotti, said. "Over the last 10 years, Meridiana has witnessed the radical transformation of the European aviation industry, characterised by a fierce competition. AirItaly aims to be a leader in the global industry, thanks to the airline’s hub in Milan Malpensa, and the reinforced base of Rome Fiumicino, alongside the seasonal network from Olbia’s Costa Smeralda heritage base which is also the headquarters of the airline."

It is recalled that as part of its consolidation measures, Meridiana will absorb its Air Italy (2005) (I9, Milan Malpensa) sister carrier on March 1. Although its brand name will continue to be used going forward, Air Italy's Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) will be returned as part of the process. For the duration of the transition process, Air Italy will continue to function albeit only until the leases on its existing fleet of aircraft - one B737-700, seven B737-800s, and three B767-300(ER)s - expire.