Meridiana becomes Air Italy, challenges Alitalia (2)

We will become new national carrier says Qatar-backed airline

(ANSA) - Milan, February 19 - Meridiana on Monday changed its name to Air Italy and, with the backing of new shareholder Qatar Airways, said it was set to become "the national carrier for Italy", replacing Alitalia. "We will show that we are the star," said Qatar Airways group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, presenting the airline's development plans.
    "In five years," he said, "the fleet will grow to 50 planes and will carry 10 million passengers," said Meridiana President Francesco Violante. The plan will enable Air Italy to hire "more than 1,5000 people", Al Baker said.
    Violante said "this is an ambitious plan for Air Italy, which opens up great prospects".
    He said 20% of profits would go to staff.
    The airline will remained headquartered at Olbia in Sardinia.
    However, Al baker added, Rome's Fiumicino Airport "will soon become the second hub of Air Italy." He said "already this year we will relaunch a network of chort and medium haul links".


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