Italian Airways: New Airline From Founder Of Air Italy

Filed Under: Other Airlines

The founder of (now liquidated) Air Italy wants to start a new airline… Italian Airways! What could possibly go wrong?

Trademark registered for Italian Airways

If one airline entrepreneur has his way, Italian Airways could be in the skies soon enough. As reported by Corriere, a trademark was officially registered with the EU Intellectual Property Office on May 28, 2020, after being requested several months earlier.

The process of registering the trademark only cost 1,050EUR, so on the surface this doesn’t like that huge of an investment yet. However, the man behind this is Giuseppe Gentile, who also founded Air Italy back in 2005. This is a bit more serious than some random person registering a trademark for an airline.

Air Italy Airbus A330

For a bit of backstory there:

  • Gentile founded Air Italy in 2005
  • Then in 2011 Meridiana Fly merged with Air Italy, at which point the airline was simply branded as Meridiana
  • Then in 2017 Qatar Airways purchased a 49% stake in the airline, at which point it was once again branded as Air Italy
  • Then in early 2020 the airline liquidated, after Qatar Airways attempted to radically change its business model, only for that to fail

Meridiana 767-300 (that was a surprisingly fun flight)

What’s Italian Airways’ business model?

The concept for this airline was first thrown around back in 2018. At that time the plan was as follows:

  • Italian Airways would operate a few long haul routes with Boeing 777s out of Milan’s Bergamo Airport
  • The airline would have an agreement with Ryanair (or another ultra low cost carrier) to provide feed for its long haul flights
  • The airline never got very far along at the time, and no air operator certificate was ever applied for

The airline initially wanted to rely on Ryanair for feed

Now the people behind the airline have a new plan:

  • The airline would still be based out of Milan’s Bergamo Airport
  • Rather than operating 777s to long haul destinations, the airline would instead operate short haul flights with 100-seat Embraer jets
  • The focus would be on serving Sardinia and other smaller airports in the region
  • In June, Gentile said in an interview that “investing in air transport today may seem like a gamble, but I think it is a good opportunity”

The airline would now operate short haul flights, competing with Alitalia

Italian Airways would essentially become a short haul Italian airline. Given how competitive the landscape is, and especially the fierce competition from ultra low cost carriers, one has to wonder how exactly this makes sense.

Then again, it seems to me like that would make more sense than launching a long haul Italian airline, since low cost long haul carriers have a hard time surviving (and given that the airline would have relied on Ryanair for feed, I have to assume the plan was to be low cost).

Bottom line

In fairness, the man behind Italian Airways is someone who founded an airline that ended up being successfully merged at the time, so for all practical purposes he has had success in Italian aviation.

This wasn’t the founder of the most recent Air Italy, but rather the founder of the Air Italy that merged with Meridiana and rebranded as that, before once again being rebranded as Air Italy.

He has apparently been looking at launching another airline for a couple of years now, but the business model has shifted from operating long haul flights out of Milan with 777s, to operating short haul flights out of Milan with Embraer 190s…

Only time will tell how this works out, though personally I wouldn’t be lining up to be an investor here, no matter how much money I had.

  1. Ryanair don’t even sell connections on their own network- why would they do it on a third party? I agree with you, Lucky – this doesn’t sound like a feasible business plan.

  2. omg the livery reminds me of Global Ghana Airlines holy smokes. I can imagine them acquiring the 777s for cheap prices from the second-hand market, but given the slow recovery for travel demand and especially in Europe, where people prefer to stay in their homes, I can already imagine as to what we can expect.

    Anyways, Good Luck Italian Airways 🙂

  3. I think the timing might be pretty good. Loads of second hand planes should be on the market soon at bargain prices. Air Italy had a certain amount of custom this could take, and the business plan for Italian airlines doesn’t call for passengers anyway so much as taxpayer support. I’d say there is a fair chance this idea could fly.

  4. @bruh – Might wanna re-read the article.

    “- Rather than operating 777s to long haul destinations, the airline would instead operate short haul flights with 100-seat Embraer jets
    – The focus would be on serving Sardinia and other smaller airports in the region”

  5. @Ben

    Yes. There will be lots of places at cheap prices out there. But why? Because huge and well established airlines have no use for them. So why do you see a newcomer having success where all the other ones can’t?

  6. Mauricio, for example, because a smaller airline has less legacy obligations and more drive.

  7. Hold on…so basically he wants to set up a new airline which will operate with the same business model (minus the long-haul flights using 767s) that Meridiana had before it was taken over by QR? Linking Milan to “Sardinia and other small airports” was working quite well for Meridiana before that whole concept was abandoned in favor of unsustainable growth, so actually I think this might have potential if it ever gets off the ground (pardon the pun).

  8. @Ben

    Even putting COVID19 aside, how many new airlines have been thriving in the last few years? Specially in Europe. We’ve seen a lot more of them going belly up…and many of them where not the so called legacy airlines. It’s incredibly difficult. The short haul is in the hands of the likes of Ryanair, Easyjet and Wizzair, which extremely low fares and it’s almost impossible to undercut them. Long haul is in the hands of those legacy airlines, many of them state owned and always being bailed out (Alitalia is the perfect example). So how can you compete?

  9. I mean “with extremely low fares”. There’s something wrong with my typing today 🙂

  10. Maurice, fair point, but maybe they can compete with well thought out network, industry experience and local connections to the establishment. Maybe they can’t. We’ll see.

  11. Well to many lcc in italy is very hard to compete whit this fares € 40 for 1 to 2 hrs flts
    Good luck

  12. There is room for good airlines to make money. Most of airlines that went belly up the ones that were poorly managed.

  13. Lots of mockery here but: This actually makes a lot of sense.

    Travel in Europe will be strong again soon (as opposed to international longhaul travel) and lease rates are really low currently. Lots of crew available who will work for a reduced salary. An embraer fleet is the right move, not too much capacity, easy to fill. Its just a question of a) securing funding (tricky currently) b) identifying good regional routes without too much competition (lots of routes were cut by other airlines so there is potential). Not sure it will succeed in the end but it seems like a solid plan. Meridiana actually worked quite well.

  14. @Wilhem

    Ryanair actually does sell connecting flights and Bergamo airport is one of the places they offer that

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