Whoa: Air Italy Is Bankrupt, Suspending Operations Effective Immediately

by Giovanni

This one really came out of nowhere. Just hours after rumors started flying of potential insolvency, Italy’s second-largest carrier Air Italy will be liquidated and is suspending operations effective immediately. All Air Italy flights will be operated by other carriers until February 25th.

Passengers booked for flights after February 25th will be refunded. Passengers with an outbound before February 25th and return after will have the option of refund or accommodation on another carrier on the inbound.

Air Italy Announcement

The full announcement on Air Italy’s website:

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 refunds@airitaly.com (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 refunds@airitaly.com (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 refunds@airitaly.com
    • – 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

Qatar Airways Statement

Qatar Airways, which owns 49% of Air Italy, released a statement as well:

Since the acquisition on 28 September 2017 of a minority stake in Air Italy, Qatar Airways has strongly believed in the company and in its potential, supporting management’s proposed business plan with a view to improving Air Italy’s growth and job creation, with the addition of long-haul routes and numerous in-flight service improvements, in line with Qatar Airways’ globally renowned high standards.

Despite our minority shareholder’s role, Qatar Airways has continuously provided all possible support to Air Italy right from the beginning, from releasing aircraft from our fleet and ordering new aircraft for Air Italy, to backing management choices and injecting capital and investment as required and permitted.

Even with the changing competitive environment and the increasingly difficult market conditions severely impacting the air transport industry, Qatar Airways has continually reaffirmed its commitment, as a minority shareholder, to continue investing in the company to create value for Italy and the travelling public and to provide support for Air Italy and its staff because for Qatar Airways the focus on employees is a core priority in its strive for excellence – in addition to supporting local communities and other stakeholders.

For this reason, Qatar Airways was ready once again to play its part in supporting the growth of the airline, but this would only have been possible with the commitment of all shareholders.

The Upshot

Qatar Airways once boasted that Air Italy would supplant Alitalia as Italy’s primary airline. It was re-launched as Air Italy two years ago in February 2018. Now, it’s going bankrupt. Ironically, just months ago, US carriers were complaining about unfair competition from Air Italy.

I guess the silver lining for Qatar Airways is that they sunk far less money into the project than Etihad once did with its Etihad Airline Partners (including Alitalia). And for passengers, unlike recent European airline bankruptcies, passengers are being given notice and (seemingly) protected.

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