Qatar buys 49% of Italian airline Meridiana

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Originally established by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili muslims, Meridiana which has just 16 aircraft, is now an equity partner of Qatar Airways.

It’s not entirely clear what Qatar’s aim is here. Much of it will be to ensure that its 200 flights a week help maintain links as Qatar feeder flights at key airports, especially as Alitalia looks ever more likely to be spilt up and reduced, one way or another. Certainly it’s short haul is almost certainly doomed.

It’s more likely that Qatar sees an opportunity to expand Meridiana’s fleet – possibly with some of its excess A320’s which have been rendered partly useless by the local blockade of Qatar. If Meridiana can in effect, become the Italian domestic carrier of choice, it’s a viable investment strategy.

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