[Translated from Italian to English]
Request to Washington to investigate the expansion of the carrier to 49% of Qatar Airways. From Doha they reject the accusations: we do not use Air Italy to fly to the USA
Air Italy is a Trojan horse from Qatar Airways in the American market. Eleven US senators – all Republicans – ask the White House to investigate the airline partner born from the sundial Meridiana with 49% in the hands of the Doha carrier. In a letter sent last December 3 to Mike Pompeo (US Department of State), Elaine Chao (Transport) and Wilbur Ross (Commerce), the senators headed by Ted Cruz invite the Trump administration to shed light on the operations of Air Italy.
Operations that, according to the representatives, seem to violate the agreement between the United States and Qatar at the beginning of this year and which establish among other things the renunciation by Qatar Airways not to have flights in fifth freedom, therefore to recur only to direct connections and not to those with a stopover in Europe, as is the case for Emirates with the Dubai-Milan-New York and Dubai-Athens-New York routes. For the eleven American senators, Qatar Airways would be circumventing that constraint by financing the routes of Air Italy between Malpensa and the US.
An accusation reminiscent of that of Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. “There is a Persian Gulf carrier who is using his investment in another company to fly to the US, which is something that needs to be solved,” Parker said a few weeks ago. Accusation that is rejected by the leaders of the Doha carrier. “On this point I want to be clear: Qatar Airways does not use Air Italy as an alternative way to take passengers from Doha to the US,” said Akbar Al Baker, from the Gulf company, to Corriere in a conversation in May immediately after delivery of the first Boeing 737 Max 8 at Air Italy. «We do not even have codeshare flights with them over Europe and we have not even thought about it.
The Republican senators think otherwise. The Milan-New York flight of Air Italy is boiling as “questionable from the commercial point of view, considering that there are already five companies (United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Alitalia, Emirates)”. The reason why the eleven believe that “entry into an already crowded market” is in line with the Qatar Airways strategy “to add flight seats with state aid to markets where demand is already well served”, write in the letter.
As a pet “that offered domestic flights and some international seasonal connections”, Meridiana then became Air Italy according to the American representatives went with launching regular flights to the USA. Markets in which Air Italy, they continue, “would have had no access without Qatar Airways money, as it would not have been possible for Qatar Airways without the direct support of the Qatari government”. So the request for investigation and verification of the respect of the treaties of January 2018 between Doha and Washington. Request that started two days before the announcement by Air Italy of two new direct routes , in April 2019, from Milan to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Originally Published on Corriere della Sera.