Breaking: Air Italy Suspending Operations, Liquidating

Filed Under: Other Airlines

This really came out of nowhere. This was rumored earlier today, and just hours later the company is ceasing operations.

Air Italy has just announced that they’ll be liquidating and suspending operations effective immediately. From February 11 through 25, 2020, all Air Italy flights will be operated by other carriers at the times and on the days previously scheduled (though I’m even somewhat skeptical of that).

Beyond that, passengers will be re-protected on other airlines or fully refunded.

Here’s the full announcement:

Following the shareholders’ meeting of Air Italy (Alisarda and Qatar Airways through AQA Holding spa) which decided the “liquidazione in bonis” of the company, and with the aim of minimizing the inconvenience for passengers holding Air Italy tickets, we inform all passengers that:

From 11 to 25 February 2020 inclusive, all Air Italy flights will be operated by other carriers at the times and on the days previously scheduled; all passengers who booked flights (outward or return) after 25 February 2020 will be re-protected or fully refunded.

More specifically:

  • All scheduled flights (outward or return) up to and including 25 February 2020 (including the first departures on the morning of 26 February 2020 of domestic flights to Malpensa and from Male and Dakar airports) will be regularly operated, without any changes to the original scheduled dates and times and on the same flight conditions. Passengers will be able to fly using their ticket. Alternatively, passengers can always opt for a full ticket refund by emailing the following address [email protected] (or contacting their travel agency) prior to their flight’s departure time.
  • For all tickets scheduled to depart by 25 February 2020 and to return after 25 February 2020:
    • – the outward journey will be regularly operated, without any changes to the original scheduled dates and times and the same flight conditions; with regards to the return flight, passengers will be offered a travel option on the first available flight of another carrier, the details of which will be provided from 18 February 2020 by calling the following number from Italy: 892928, from abroad: +39078952682, from Usa: +1 866 3876359, from Canada: +1 800 7461888, or by contacting the travel agency in the case of purchase through this channel.
    • – Alternatively, passengers can opt to claim their refund for unused flight segments, by emailing the following address [email protected] (or by contacting the travel agency if the ticket was purchased through it) prior to the flight’s departure time.
  • Tickets for return flights after 25 February 2020:
    • – If purchased directly via the web (Air Italy portal) or Air Italy contact center, they will be fully refunded in a manner that will be provided via email, or requesting it at the address [email protected]
    • – If purchased through the Air Italy ticket office, they will be fully refunded by going to any Air Italy ticket office
    • – If purchased through a travel agency it will be necessary to request a refund or a change of travel by contacting the agency

All bookings for which the travel document has not been completed through the purchase of the ticket will automatically lapse. For more information, the toll-free number from Italy: 892928; from abroad: +39078952682 from Usa: +1 866 3876359 from Canada: +1 800 7461888

Wow, that was fast…

I’d dig up the quotes about Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker bragging about how Air Italy will destroy Alitalia and become Italy’s new national airline, but I’m guessing his ego is wounded enough at the moment.

I feel bad for all the great employees at Air Italy who have lost their jobs as a result of this mess.

Was anyone scheduled to fly on Air Italy?

Comments
  1. Maybe we have reached the limit of what the Qatari government is going to give Akbar Al Baker to play with to buy other airlines.

  2. Qatar is usually sensible with their buys (Cathay, IAG), but to be honest with you I completely forgot Air Italy even existed. Very rarely if ever do I see it on booking apps, or at my local airport (Heathrow). Why is the Italian full service airline industry in tatters?

  3. Well, now just imagine the amount of losses Qatar Airways would be inheriting from Air Italy following their collapse, added on to their already huge losses. When QR acquired a stake, I believed that Air Italy would become one of the largest airlines in Europe internationally, connecting pax between Europe and North America. With their soft product similar to that of QR, it was clear that Air Italy could not sustain any longer if they were to follow QR’s footsteps, considering that the magnitude of the operations of the both airlines’ are completely different. Ugh, another airline has ‘temporarily’ suspended their operations, and with the onset of the upcoming recession, god knows how many airlines will have similar fate.

    Also @Lucky, Will QR be taking back those A332s to operate their own flights until the airline resumes their operations?

  4. This is good news not just for Alitalia, but also for American jobs at US carriers that were targeted by a carrier that never intended to be profitable. While the folks at Air Italy may be out of a job, at least the people of Delta, American, and United will have fair competition, rather than having to deal with absurd money losing Air Italy routes such as SFO-MXP. I am surprised but glad to hear that the blank check that the Qatari government handed to Air Italy has been cancelled.

  5. I maintain that QR’s reputation will be completely undamaged by the collapse of IG. This is a small aberration in the history of Qatar Airways that can be swept under the carpet.

  6. I think they are liquidating voluntarily, meaning cutting their losses before it’s too late. Sensible approach. Explains also why it’s happening suddenly.

  7. I am surprised that in Qatar Airways’ press release on the matter, they didn’t thrown the 737MAX under the bus.

  8. Seems odd that with the large amount of tourists seeking to visit Italy every year (along with some decent sized business cities like Milan and Turin) that Italian airlines are in such poor financial shape…

  9. @Sam:

    Copying-and-pasting your uninformed (bordering on painfully unaware) comment from the other blog entry doesn’t make what you’ve said any more true. Ben and numerous others – with actual insight into the biz – have written volumes on how the tripe trotted out by the Open Skies folks is either an outright lie or very misleading.

  10. Anyone surprised? Most investments in Italian enterprises are deemed to fail. The lazy Italian work culture and protectionism benefiting Alitalia could not be sustained. Good move from Qatar to cut loses early.

  11. Was a mistake from the beginning to consolidate all routes to MXP, which really isn’t a leisure market and a weak market from the US in general.

    Meanwhile it seems that United has had success on EWR-NAP and is launching EWR-PMO. Aka real Italian cities that Meridiana used to serve before becoming “AirMilano”, I mean “AirItaly”

  12. @Real Alpha Male

    Seriously? I guess with a name like “Real Alpha Male” I shouldn’t be surprised you would leave such an ignorant and ungrounded comment knocking the Italian work culture that I am sure you know nothing about. Enjoy your seemingly empty and sad life!

  13. Akbar Al Baker was doing a great job until he follows the strategy of James Hogan (former CEO of Etihad) to invest in unstable, loss making carriers like Air Italy or airlines in India.

  14. Not surprised, they basically had no feed. Tried to fly them a few times, but they didnt serve London for example. They should have cooperated with easyjet to get some feed for MXP.

  15. Did they fly to many European cities? Their wiki page shows (as of May 2019) outside of Italy, they only had 2 destinations in Europe (one of them being a seasonal flight to Gatwick). All other flights were to Africa and the Americas. Seems like bad planning, you’d think they’d have tried for more feeder traffic from the rest of Europe.

  16. I redeeemed a boatload of BA avios for business class flights on Air Italy direct from Milan to SF. Will BA refund me the miles and fees?

  17. So, I was scheduled to fly Air Italy from Rome – Milan – JFK yesterday, with Air Bulgaria operating the Rome – Milan leg. Received an e-mail that the Rome – Milan leg was cancelled and they offered me a literally impossible alternative. After an hour on hold and with no other way to get from Rome to Milan to catch my Milan – JFK flight, I was going to book Alitalia from Rome – JFK at a huge number. Then, out of the blue, about 3 hours after the e-mail, I received a phone call from Air Italy, offering to book me on the same non-stop Alitalia flight I was considering (at about 1,800.00E), so I seemingly dodged a bullet.

    That being said, I flew on Air Italy twice in about a year. Once JFK – Milan and the other JFK – Milan – Rome. The airport set-up was a little chaotic, but the price was ridiculously low and the in-flight service was excellent (much better than the mediocre Alitalia experience yesterday). There was just no one on the planes. JFK-Milan in February, 2019 was 1/3 full and JFK-Milan last week was about 2/5 full, with the Air Bulgaria Milan – Rome leg about 1/2 full.

    That being said, I am eternally grateful that I got to experience 2 great Italian cities at rock-bottom prices and while I’m sure that there are multiple reasons that this venture didn’t work, personally, I am disappointed that they are folding.

  18. The immediacy and lack of lead time to demise is a slap in the face to Italy and Europe and will have repercussions beyond the immediate company’s demise.

    Qatar Airways most likely is the one who pulled the investment plug as they were the ones funding the losses.

  19. @Jeff

    Meridiana was in very bad shape as a matter of fact. That was the reason why Qatar Airways came into the picture.

  20. I was going to book this for August vacation yesterday, as I much prefer these old spacious seats to the Herringbone coffins now taking over. Wow, just shows how close airlines can be to liquidation with no clear warning of their finances and still taking Bookings.
    Can anyone recommend a similar business class product with wide seats (so not Lufthansa) like these?

  21. This is another big blow for Milan’s Malpensa airport. With Alitalia moving their international hub to Rome a few years ago, Air Italy was going to be Malpensa’s savior.

    Leaving US politics out of this…It should be a wake-up call for the Italian Government that Italian airlines just can’t float (except of course Alitalia who is failing but seems to get endless cash infusions from the Italian government!)

    Remember Lufthansa Italia?
    How many other Italian airlines (with 49% foreign ownership) will survive?

    Italy should depend on Ryanair and EasyJet for European flights and get a foreign carrier to link Milan,Rome, Venice, and Sicily. Would save the Italian government a lot Euros !

  22. I have mixed feelings – on the one hand, there are some questions around the business behaviour of Qatar Airways and the government – not to the degree that the “Open Skies” people would have you believe, but there are legitimate concerns.

    On the other hand, the Italian government has consistently violated EU state aid rules to prop up Alitalia, and if they would just let that money pit of an airline fail other competitors might be able to make a go of it.

  23. @Ric

    I am not so sure that this will be a big blow for Malpensa. Prior to launching the new Air Italy with Qatar Airways, Malpensa, after many years was back into profit. With big investments from Ryanair for their T2 and the Gulf 3 maximizing their presence. Emirates linking successfully Milan with New York direct flight with an A380 and all of the Gulf Airlines increasing to the maximum their frequencies. In addition to this and having upgraded the terminal to new standards, also other International airlines made good use of it. I strongly believe that Malpensa is not at all at risk because of this. Well it’s definitely not good news, but I have a serious suspicion that the game is yet to be over. Qatar Airways might not be ready to let it go and some other partner might as well be ready to jump in instead of Aga Khan, especially if the airline comes without past liability, which seems to be the case.

  24. I am not 100% sure, but I think Alitalia got awarded a bunch of PSO domestic routes, mostly connecting Milan/Rome to Sardinia, that up until mid 2019 were operated by Meridiana / Air Italy.

  25. Italy likely should go the way of Greece and not have a long-haul, “flag” carrier. Stable, discount airlines already offer great domestic service and connections within Europe. Other airlines can provide the long-haul service similar to the Emirates flight that connects Milan to New York. Who knows, perhaps the US airlines will increase service to Rome/Milan.

    Unfortunately for Air Italy, they lost the race with Alitalia to see who could be the last man standing.

  26. This is disappointing; my wife and I fairly recently redeemed some BA avios for MXP-LAX in July, and were looking forward to the nonstop in 2-4-2 Y as a more pleasant affordable daytime TATL experience. I’ll scour for alternatives, but we’ll almost certainly now have to deal with an itinerary with a stop and 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 seating or have to pay the premium for J in the middle of tourist season.

    Milan is a great city and it was really nice having those nonstop options from MXP to the West Coast.

  27. I flew with them LAX-MXP last year and was booked to do it again in April. They were a great airline and will be missed. A little bit more feed in Europe and year round service to LAX and the planes would have been packed.

  28. @SAM

    Sam is right about the unfair and subsidized competition. However it’s in the grand scheme of things not a big issue. A few heavily subsidized routes and a few jobs here or there isn’t a big deal worth attention. What is a big deal is the subsidizes airbus receives and that puts Boeing at a disadvantage. If the heavily subsidized A320neo and A321neo were pushed into production as quick maybe Boeing would have designed a new plane from scratch instead of being forced by the market to extend the 737 to the Max.

  29. I think there is a reason why full service airlines based in Italy are failing, and that is geography. Italy being in southern Europe, and most of commercial routes being located in the northern emisphere, simply a hub located in Italy cannot be fed by central european customers. No reason for them to connect southward for a transcontinental flight traveling northwards.
    And of course there is no feed market to the south of Italy (North Africa…). Without feed no full service airline can survive.

  30. … And you’ll learn in an equally unexpected and sudden announcement in a few days that Qatar Airways has just bought Alitalia and is recapitalizing it with cash and all the Air Italy assets…

  31. To the surprise of…. no one who had any vague knowledge of the airline industry.

    Air Italy was always a thinly veiled attempt by QR to expand its influence rather than a proper airline – this was never about making money for QR, only about circumventing the foreign ownership restrictions on EU airlines. I see QR have already come out and blamed the failure on the Aga Khan, basically saying they were happy to keep pouring unlimited money into what was and would indefinitely remain a massively loss making airline. Clearly should have chosen a partner who shared that rather odd objective instead.

  32. @Johnson Roberson
    BS. Both Airbus and Boeing have lost illegal subsidy cases at the WTO: it simply is not true that poor, defenceless Boeing is being bullied by Airbus.

    Boeing, as well as being heavily subsidised in its own right (remind me: why is its HQ in Chicago?), has its snout firmly in the defence money trough.

  33. And people say I’m crazy when I say to fly Emirates… Qatar Airways is about to go bankrupt too! This is just the beginning…

    @The Nice Paul
    Do you ever do your research?

  34. @Aniro LOT’s 787s. I’m 6’3 and still had what seemed like a foot of room between my feet and the bulkhead while fully flat. And they are as wide as it gets.

  35. Qatari money is ruining everything !! imagine all the money the poor Qatari people who did not have a say in how to spend it and how they feel now ! and instead this dictator Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani gave all of that money to his crazy friend Akbar Al Baker to spend it on buying trashy airlines for his entertainment !!

  36. @SAM
    As quite a few others have already pointed out here, that you are in fact a a Trump mouthpiece, please stop throwing up to us all your ignorant ,ill informed, bigot and bias rantings.

  37. I was scheduled to fly from Toronto to Milan on April 23 and returning April 30th. I was told by a few people the inflight experience was good and gave favourable reviews. I have submitted a request for a refund this morning.

    I have rebooked with Air Canada/Lufthansa, which should have been the way to go from the beginning.

    Oddly enough, the last time we encountered issues with an airline, it was Alitalia causing my travel party issues and we rebooked with Air Canada/Lufthansa then as well.

  38. Yes, was suppose to fly out next week and fly back in March. Emailed for a full refund and booked with TAP Air Portugal.

  39. Booked a ticket in April. I have asked for a refund but no news yet. Will they truly refund? How long will it take? What are my options? I really need the money, it took me a while to save up money for this trip.

  40. Have 4 RT business class tickets booked for June/July. Had I not randomly come across this article I would have no idea that Air Italy ceased operations. Those with flights after February 25th have not been notified by email – or at least I haven’t been notified. Spent an hour on hold with Customer Service only to be disconnected. Not cool.

    Luckily I have time to rebook and will likely get refunded. I feel bad for others traveling in March and April who will now be scrambling for reasonably priced flights.

  41. I have flights to Rome March 20th. I purchased through Vayama. TVayama told me to wait a couple of days till they figure out what they are going to do. I am nervous. Does anyone know how long will a refund take?

  42. I flew from NYC to Milan on Feb 1 and scheduled to fly back March 16 I have not received any information as promised nor rebooked flight ..I am totally pissed off ✅

  43. Refunds notifications for tickets purchased through Air Italy´s direct channels

    Dear Passenger,
    The company is in voluntary liquidation, meaning that it has undertaken to meet all commitments made with its creditors. Therefore, Air Italy would like to reassure all customers owning a ticket issued on flights after 25 February 2020, that it will take care of processing every single request in the shortest possible time.
    The refund will be honoured through the same payment channel used by each individual customer and will cover the total amount related to the Air Italy services purchased, without applying any penalty deriving from the type of fare purchased or from any other rules related to the services themselves .
    In reference to requests for refunds, the Company wishes to apologize for the delay in processing the requests received in the e-mail box [email protected] and to the Call Centre number, which have been enhanced but has to process a number of calls ten times more than usual.
    Yours sincerely,
    Air Italy in liquidation

  44. I received a refund to my card but it appears to be the settlement of the “claim” I filed with my credit card company. Still no communication from Air Italy, though. For those who haven’t done so already, I suggest filling a claim with your credit card company.

  45. I suggest going through your credit card company and attempting a chargeback. I was successful with that (via Bank of America).

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