A transatlantic war of words has broken out between a small Italian airline and the giants of U.S. aviation, because it marked a doubling of the carrier’s route network into the USA adding to its services to New York and Miami it had launched earlier in 2018.
Air Italy, with a fleet of just 16 aircraft, announced in early December that it was preparing to launch new services to Los Angeles and San Francisco from Milan Malpensa airport, starting in April 2019.
Now a coalition, that includes American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, issue a strongly-worded statement calling for the U.S. government to step in.
Its issue isn’t with the idea of an Italian carrier launching flights to U.S. cities though; it is with Air Italy’s second biggest shareholder from Qatar, which owns 49% of Air Italy.
Additional On December 18, Air Italy said it was going to launch a non-stop service from Milan to Chicago O’Hare International airport from mid-May 2019.
Air Italy will have gained some useful publicity from the episode, which will do it no harm at all as it pushes ahead with a significant overhaul of its operations.
In March 2018 it changed its name from Meridiana as part of its revamp. Since then it has added new domestic and international routes, including long-haul services to Bangkok, Delhi and Mumbai, as well as the mentioned U.S. destinations.
The airline has a small fleet of ten Boeing 737’s, one Boeing 767 and five Airbus A-330’s, but is aiming to operate 50 aircraft by 2022. The new long-haul routes are being served by the A-330.
Qatar Airways’ investment in the Italian airline also plays into its fierce rivalry with the two United Arab Emirates carriers.
Emirates already operates services between Milan and New York with one of its own planes. Etihad had previously invested heavily in Alitalia, the national carrier of Italy.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Aviation News 2018.