Air Italy Cuts Los Angeles, San Francisco, And Toronto Flights (Now Only Seasonal)

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: Air Italy has issued the below statement in response to this post.

“Air Italy would like to clarify that with respect to our Winter 2019/20 schedule, our new services have always been planned as seasonal operations.

The average Toronto temperature in January and February is -3 degrees Celsius. Although not as extreme, San Francisco’s December and January weather is wet, with over 100mm of rain and temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius. As has been demonstrated repeatedly, Italy’s outbound winter traffic is traditionally beach-focused with skiing holidays being predominantly taken domestically, hence our planned schedule for counter-seasonal flights to the Maldives, Mombasa, Tenerife, Zanzibar and Fort De France matches our home market demands. Air Italy currently has 13 aircraft and so it is important to optimise our network to match seasonal requirements while focusing on serving our core domestic and international destinations such as Rome, Naples, New York and Miami.”

I’d note that when these routes were announced, not a single time was it stated that they were intended to be seasonal. I’m not sure what to make of this.

I’ve never seen an airline unravel quite this quickly. It’s embarrassing, and doesn’t reflect well on Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways’ takeover of Air Italy

Last year Qatar Airways acquired a 49% stake in Air Italy, which was formerly known as Meridiana. This seems to be Qatar Airways’ (very poorly thought out) attempt at putting Alitalia out of business.

Qatar Airways had big expansion plans for Air Italy. To start Qatar Airways leased them some A330s, but soon the airline is supposed to be getting 787s from Qatar Airways as well, to further fuel their expansion.

Up a few months ago, the airline had announced that they’d serve six destinations in North America and three destinations in Asia, all from their hub in Milan.

Just to give you a full sense of what was planned, here’s a brief interview with Qatar Airways’ CEO a while back about his plans for the airline:

Air Italy has canceled route after route

Air Italy’s business plan hasn’t gone quite as expected, to put it mildly:

Air Italy is making more routes seasonal

Air Italy’s flights from Milan to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto, will be seasonal, meaning that the routes will be suspended as of October 26, 2019. While the airline is saying that the suspensions are seasonal, personally I wouldn’t count on the routes returning in 2020 being a sure bet.

So when that happens, this means that Air Italy’s only year-round routes to North America will be to New York and Miami, which were their initial routes anyway.

So, what does Air Italy plan to do instead? FlightGlobal reports that Air Italy intends to offer counter-seasonal routes, as they describe it, to the Maldives, Mombasa, Tenerife, and Zanzibar.

That sounds nice in theory, but the problem is that Air Italy’s route network is limited, so they’ll have a hard time getting the connecting traffic required to make these flights work, unless they forge more partnerships.

Add in the fact that Air Italy’s short haul fleet consists primarily of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which are grounded, and things look even worse.

Air Italy is an embarrassment

Air Italy’s situation is just plain amateur and embarrassing. You’d think that Qatar Airways would have learned from Etihad Airways’ mistakes, as they invested in a bunch of unprofitable airlines and continued to run them in unsustainable ways (including Alitalia, which Air Italy is trying to compete with).

However, at this point I can’t help but believe that they didn’t actually learn any of those lessons.

Bottom line

Air Italy flew to both New York and Miami when they were still branded as Meridiana, before Qatar Airways invested in them. The airline has now suspended or canceled all seven long haul flights that they’ve announced in the past year.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. Do you think they will cancel existing routes to NYC from Milan? I’m flying with them in July and I’m worried

  2. Just to be clear, is it your understanding that these flight will continue for this summer? I’ve got four people booked in business (using Avios) MXP-LAX for late June. How worried should I be?

  3. Air Italy needs a hub first, then you can plot adding flight to far off places. First they should build up their hub in MXP with flights all over Europe. Then they can go to other airlines and create partnerships and then they can add flights to the USA & Asia. Well it is fun to watch this airline cut flights though.

  4. @ Mark — Correct, they’re expected to operate this summer. Personally I wouldn’t be too worried about them being canceled, since demand is high for transatlantic flights in summer.

  5. @ Marc — I wouldn’t be worried. That was their first route, and it’s also a very big market in peak summer season.

  6. I’ve always thought Air Italy was an attempt to smite Delta via SkyTeam competition.
    weird flex but ok.

  7. Miss Meridiana. Charming little carrier. Flew Meridiana LGW-FLR, loved those guys. £107 round trip to Florence for the weekend, nice flight.

    At FLR they charged me roughly 3x the price quoted on my eticket receipt for a checked bag and said that I should have known the price was only valid for bags booked in advance online. Also I got to FLR airport too early and had to basically sit on a bench and do nothing but endure complaints from my spouse who (reasonably) pointed out that it was my fault that we had gotten to the airport way too early and had nothing to do but sit on a bench, and that it my fault that we had been tricked into overpaying for a checked bag, although in fairness I pointed out that it would be about a one-minute credit card dispute to ensure that we later paid the quoted price (and it was) (and we did).

    Also, separately, at LGW, they had a little sign up at their check-in counter that said “I know you bought your ticket on British Airways’s web site and I know you are using a check-in counter adjacent to the BA check-in counters, but we are not British Airways and we do charge fees for checked baggage. Sorry but this is called a ‘codeshare’.” Apparently a lot of people were confused by the concept.

    Also, the PNR was only 5 characters long.

    The flights were fine, on time, comfy, all went well.

  8. They made such a fanfare over the LAX route with the creme de la creme of their management, media and Italian consul general of LA present on inaugural day

    They simply cannot compete with legacy carriers and I would not book with such an airline as they don’t have the back up when things go wrong

  9. Need to join One World if they want that connecting traffic. Don’t see them lasting too long as a standalone airline.

  10. At least they tried and pulled put pretty quickly. Isn’t that what legacy airlines do as well? American cancelled most Asia routes from ORD and United changing many Irish and Eastern European routes to seasonal?

  11. @That sounds nice in theory, but the problem is that Air Italy’s route network is limited, so they’ll have a hard time getting the connecting traffic required to make these flights work

    You’re missing a point. No need in connecting traffic to make these flights work. The ones are very popular holiday destinations for Italians. Trash holiday airline Blue Panorama has been doing flights to these destinations for ages.

    So Air Italy simply turns itself into charter/leisure carrier for North Italy in order not to make losses.

  12. You don’t need connections to fill places like Mombasa from Milan. It’s a huge destination for Italians. Running O&D heavy leisure routes counter-seasonal, with the two largest markets, NYC and Miami, year-round, actually seems like a good plan.

  13. Not sure if you are talking about orders but, as far as I know, they only have 2 boeing 737 max.
    Italian media doesn’t talk much of this routes’ mess.. Weird!

  14. Giving up on the US and adding holiday routes is all well and good, although an embarrassing set back as you say @Lucky, but they aren’t going to fill a business cabin to Tenerife or Mombasa which are cheap leisure routes so yields are surely going to be low. Meanwhile, having Qatar standard business class service on cheap holiday routes seems like a mismatch.

  15. This gave me an idea – I vote Lucky does a review of Blue Panorama business class…always saying you like quirky airlines 😉

  16. This airline is so Italian, they say things, then realize they messed up and have to backpedal. Looks like they have no strategy.

    They really need to focus on high traffic short-medium hall routes to make long haul routes profitable. How about service to London or Amsterdam to the west? And they should really look towards Budapest and Tel Aviv to the east, lots of demand for Milan there.

    This company needs to refocus on Europe first and then can spread its wings. Way too much focus on Africa as of now.

  17. The Greater Toronto Hamilton Area in Ontario has a HUGE Italian diaspora population.
    They are blaming the weather for cutting back service. Ha. They knew what the weather was when they started the flights. People travel for lots of reasons, most not related to the weather. They just can’t compete.

  18. I’ve read this post and the reply supposedly from AirItaly; where is it coming from?

    I’m in contact the the Top Management of the airline and nobody confirmed this. Not all the 3 routes mentioned will be seasonal; the winter season operations are still not fully disclosed.

  19. Why are you so angry with air Italy? This article is so harsh! What has Air Italy done to you to be so spiteful?
    Also, I am appalled at some of the degrading and offensive comments about Italians like “this airline is so Italian”. If you hate Italians so much then don’t read articles about our airlines and don’t spit out gross generalizations about us. Stick with your great American Airlines.

  20. Avoid Air Italy! They cancelled both flights to and from Maldives within 4 days.
    When I was notified about the departure flight cancellation, I asked if the return flight will stay the same because I needed to know how I stand. Maldives is a very expensive destination and changes come for a high price. They said yeessss, no changeees. And 4 days later, bang! Cancelled the other flight too. Seriously?!
    “(…)hence our planned schedule for counter-seasonal flights to the Maldives, Mombasa, Tenerife, Zanzibar and Fort De France matches our home market demands.” – this is just bull. They cancelled Maldives in a blink of an eye and, like a really bad joke, they announced that 15 days prior the departure, to make sure we are not entitled to compensation. Lame management. Apparently, bad habits from Meridiana are still there, within the company. I wonder what Qatar Airways, their investors, would think about this. Very unprofessional.

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