The recent launch of Air Italy is set to open new opportunities for business and tourism, especially small and medium enterprises, in both Italy and Qatar, Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano has told Gulf Times.

With the aim to have 50 aircraft and transport more than 10mn passengers annually by 2022, the envoy expressed confidence that such development will generate more jobs, create various tourism and business activities between the two countries.

Currently, the airline transports 2.5mn passengers and it expects more than 8mn passengers to use the Milan Malpensa airport in the next five years.

“All in all this means new opportunities for business, especially the most important and relevant ones such as the small and medium enterprises,” he noted.

Qatar Airways previously strengthened its commitment to Italy in 2017 with the acquisition of 49% of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Air Italy, while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda kept 51%.

Salzano said Air Italy will soon become one of the top European airlines with international and intercontinental flights with the highest standards.

This is guaranteed by the top quality and highly successful business model of Qatar Airways, together with “the luxury and unique style of the Italian touch.”

“Air Italy is a brand new company that will be the pride of Italy in the world,” the envoy stressed. “The business plan announced for the airline is particularly impressive.”

"Fifty aircraft by 2022 and 20 of the brand new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft type from April 2018 over the next three years," the envoy said.

He added that the airline will also receive five Airbus A330-200 aircraft this year from the Qatar Airways fleet, prior to these being further replaced by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft commencing May 2019.

As far as network destinations are concerned, Salzano said new long-range routes from Milan to New York and Miami have been announced.

New short-haul routes connecting Milan and the airline’s long range destinations to Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme will follow soon, he disclosed.

In September, Air Italy will be launching four weekly flights from Milan to Bangkok and three additional long-haul destinations will be opened by the end of the year.

Further plans include strengthening the airline’s short-range network to improve connectivity and launching the first long-range destination from Rome Fiumicino in 2019. Air Italy aims to fly more than 50 year-round routes by 2022.

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