Air Italy (IG, Milan Malpensa) has for the time being dropped plans to add B787-8s from its 49%-owner Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) and will instead add more A330-200s, Chief Operating Officer Rossen Dimitrov told the Aviation Analyst.

"Because of the delay in Boeing 787 Dreamliner deliveries, we have decided to expand the fleet with Airbus A330s instead. We will add more A330s this year, and next year too," Dimitrov said.

Originally, Air Italy had planned to then start introducing twenty B787-8s to its fleet from mid-2019 onwards. The Boeing twinjets would then have started replacing the A330-200 and B767-300(ER) fleet. However, the deliveries of the B787s to Air Italy would only be possible after Qatar Airways starts taking B787-9s which are delayed.

"Qatar Airways B787-9 are delayed, which means we cannot for the moment take delivery of our leased B787-8 aircraft from Qatar Airways Group. As a result, it makes more sense at this time to grow our A330 fleet due to existing operational synergies and cost efficiencies due to the commonality across pilots, engineering, and crew. We will receive two A330s within the next 12 months," spokesperson Loredana De Filippo clarified to ch-aviation.

She underlined that Air Italy has not committed to a single type and is still evaluating various options.

"Given the overall situation at the moment, Air Italy is considering all options. We have this flexibility due to the fact that we have leased aircraft," De Filippo underlined.

Air Italy currently operates five A330-200s, which are all ex-Qatar Airways stock and dry-leased from Castlelake. The aircraft are 15.8 years old on average. Air Italy has already retired all B767-300(ER)s which it inherited from Meridiana fly (IG, Olbia), its previous brand name prior to Qatar Airways' investment.

The future A330s will also be transferred from Qatar Airways. The Qatari carrier continues to operate seven A330-200s, as well as thirteen A330-300s.

Dimitrov also said that Air Italy is evaluating its options regarding the narrowbody fleet. The carrier has three grounded B737-8s. It initially planned to take twenty such aircraft but is now also considering switching to Airbus aircraft.

"It could have been more streamlined if we were an all-Airbus customer, and it’s something we are exploring as an option. We are evaluating our network and fleet, and we’ve reviewed our fleet plan very recently in light of the 737 MAX groundings," Dimitrov said.

Besides the grounded MAX 8s, Air Italy also operates four in-house B737-800s and one B737-700 and wet-leases one B737-300 from Tayaran Jet and one E190 from Bulgaria Air.

Editorial Comment: The article has been updated with the spokesperson's comments. - 15.05.2019 - 08:12 UTC