Air Italy takes delivery of its first 737 MAX

Air Italy, the country’s second-largest carrier behind Alitalia, recently took delivery of its first Boeing 737-MAX aircraft from the airplane manufacturer’s plant in Washington state, the first of some 50 additional aircraft that will be added to the carrier’s fleet by 2022 and the first of 20 brand new Boeing 737 MAX jets the airline will add over the next three years.

Boeing 737 MAX in Air Italy livery
If the name Air Italy doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because the name is fairly new, though the airline has been around since the early ‘60s. The company was established with the name of Alisarda in 1963 with the aim of promoting tourism to Sardinia, an island about 270 miles west of Naples, Italy.

In 1991, the name was changed to Meridiana, and was subsequently rebranded Air Italy in February 2018. Air Italy is wholly owned by AQA Holding, in which Alisarda owns 51 percent and Qatar Airways owns the remaining 49 percent.

The new aircraft, which was delivered on Friday May 11, is the first plane to sport the Air Italy livery, which was unveiled at the rebranding in February.

Air Italy’s fleet, currently comprising eight Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 NextGen and three Boeing 767-300, will be progressively renewed with eight new aircraft, three brand new Boeing 737 MAX-8 and five Airbus A330-200 joining during 2018 and with the full retirement of the B767-300 by the end of 2018.

Interior of Air Italy 737 MAX
Prior to its rebranding, Meridiana was rated a three-star airline by SKYTRAX, and given a score of five out of a possible 10 by those passengers who reviewed its service on the SKYTRAX website. Those who reviewed it on TripAdvisor rated it three out of a possible five.

The airline flies to 66 destinations and will offer non-stop flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York and Miami International Airport (MIA) to Italy starting in June. From there, travelers can connect to other cities in its network across Europe and elsewhere.

Long-haul flights, such as those from JFK and MIA, offer two types of Business Class tickets – Electa Promo and Electa Flex – which offer a broad range of included benefits that are nearly identical except that Electa Flex makes refunds available without charge.

Passengers in the airline’s main cabin will find that Air Italy is a carrier that vigorously embraces the à la carte pricing model.

Fare comparison table from
Main cabin “Light” fares include only the seat and one piece of hand baggage. Purchasers of “Light” fares will pay extra for advance seat assignment, a checked bag, and priority boarding. Light fares cannot be rebooked.

“Classic” fares include a checked bag and can be rebooked for a fee, but otherwise are the same as “Light” fares. “Premium” fares include a full range of amenities, though there is a charge for travelers who cancel and are seeking a refund.

Checking a sample flight from JFK to Milan’s Malpensa Airport (MXP), departing June 2 and returning June 9, Air Italy offers a Premium main cabin round-trip fare of $1,065.45.

Other carriers that ply the route offer higher fare for the same trip, including Alitalia, which offers a mid-range economy seat fare of $1,699.01, and Emirates, which offers an economy seat on an Airbus A380 For $2,131.01.

This may not be a fair fare comparison, however. Because the sample flights would be in the early days of Air Italy flying the route, they could well be introductory fares. does not have data for either Meridiana or Air Italy, so objective information on seat pitch, etc., is difficult to come by. Of the other carriers, Alitalia offers economy seats on its A330 between JFK and MXP that are 17 inches wide with 31 to 32 inches of pitch. Emirates’ economy seats are 18 inches wide and offer 32 to 34 inches of pitch.

As to Air Italy’s fleet, some sources say many of the planes are 20 or more years old and, while well maintained, have not been updated to current contemporary standards. The airline and its owners have plans to add newer planes, however, as Air Italy will receive five Airbus A330-200 aircraft this year from the Qatar Airways’ fleet which Qatar will replace with Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.

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Photos provided by Air Italy
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