Air Italy Launching Flights To Chicago And Toronto With 787’s Being Delivered Soon

Just as we were coming to terms with the announcement that Air Italy will be flying to two new US destinations, they go and announce even more transatlantic flights to the capital of fashion.

In the last two days, Air Italy have announced two new North American destinations for 2019. From May next year, the up and coming carrier will serve Toronto and Chicago with multiple flights per week.

The services to both Chicago and Toronto will start just a month after the carrier begins its services to California, adding both Los Angeles and San Francisco to its repertoire. They also currently run services to New York and Miami.

Disrespectful of Trump

This latest route announcement comes amidst protests from US network airlines who are unhappy with the relationship between Air Italy and 49% owner, Qatar Airways. United, American and Delta have all accused Qatar of using Air Italy to indirectly fly a service from Doha to the US.

Air Italy Launching Flights To Chicago And Toronto With 787’s Being Delivered Soon
Boeing’s Vice President of Sales, Ihssane Mounir, with Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al Baker as he takes delivery of Air Italy’s first 737 MAX 8

So disgruntled are the legacy carriers, a lobbying group have even claimed that Air Italy are disrespecting President Trump. In a statement released by the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, of which all three big US carriers are members, they said:

“With the announcement of new routes from Air Italy to the U.S., fuelled by money from Qatar Airways, the government of Qatar has demonstrated a stunning lack of respect for President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo.”

They went on to say that the Qatari government promised not to launch ‘fifth freedom’ flights to the US, and that by exploiting its investment in Air Italy, they were effectively dodging this pledge. The partnership and the airlines remain vocal following these latest announcements, claiming that Air Italy’s new routes represent a violation of Qatar’s Open Skies agreements with the US.

Speaking to Simple Flying, Scott Reed, campaign manager for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, added the comment that:

“Once again, Qatar is using Air Italy as a Trojan horse built from subsidized cash to avoid its commitments to the Trump administration and launch new fifth freedom routes. What’s clear now is that the writing is on the wall. Qatar Airways knows that President Trump and Secretary Pompeo won’t accept flagrant trade cheating that hurts American workers, and is quickly launching further subsidized flights before the administration takes action. As we said earlier this month, faced with clear evidence that Qatar will not play fair or abide by its commitments, we expect the Trump administration will stand up for American workers in response to these violations.”

Formerly known as Meridiana, Air Italy has been undergoing massive expansion thanks largely to investment from Qatar. Launched in March, the airline is already the country’s second largest carrier, behind ailing flag carrier Alitalia.

The up and coming airline plans to fly more than 50 routes by 2022. As well as the US, Air Italy already flies long haul to Bangkok, Delhi and Mumbai among other destinations.

The new route details

Air italys new routes
Air Italy have launched no less than four North American routes for next year

Air Italy will be flying three times a week between Milan and Chicago, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The route will launch on 14th May 2019 and will be operated by Airbus A330-200s. The schedule is as follows:

  • IG913 departing Milan 1310, arriving Chicago 1625
  • IG914 departing Chicago 1825, arriving Milan 1035 (+1 day)

The flight will take around 10 hours and 15 mins westbound and just 9 hours and 10 minutes eastbound. The launch of this service will make Air Italy the only airline to fly nonstop between Chicago and Milan (they are also due to be the only nonstop from LA and San Fran to Milan too) so it’s going to be a popular route with travellers.

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Air Italy will be the first to fly direct from Italy to Chicago

For the Milan to Toronto route, Air Italy will operate a four times a week service, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Also launching on May 14th, 2019, the route will be serviced by A330-200s again and the schedule looks as follows:

  • IG923 departing Milan 1355, arriving Toronto 1715
  • IG924 departing Toronto 1945, arriving Milan 1010 (+1 day)

The trip is scheduled to take 9 hours 20 mins westbound and 8 hours 25 mins eastbound.

Will Air Italy start using their new 787s for North American routes?

Air Italy is on track to grow to a fleet of 50 aircraft over the next three years. These will include 20 new 737 MAX 8s, five new A330s and 30 787s. Although delivery dates are unconfirmed at this stage, Qatar have indicated that they expect to start entering the 787s into service at some point in 2019/2020,

That ties in nicely with the launch dates for these new US routes, so it’s likely that the A330s could be phased out, gradually being replaced by the Dreamliner. Although the capacity for passengers is around the same on both aircraft, the 787-8 allows for far more comfort, particularly in business class where lie flat seats are the norm.

As the aircraft will be on lease from Qatar, we can expect them to be very similar to the Qatar standard. Their 787s have 22 lie flat seats in business, in a 1-2-1 configuration, and 232 economy seats arranged in a 3-3-3 layout.

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The economy cabin on a Qatar 787-8
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Business class on a Qatar 787-8

Whether these aircraft will start taking over the Transatlantic routes right away remains to be seen, but we think it’s highly likely.