Italian carrier Air Italy, formerly Meridiana, is launching a new service between Milan and Bangkok on September 9, 2018.

The new route is part of the airline’s rapid expansion plans designed to take on rival carrier Alitalia, which it unveiled last week alongside its rebranding from Meridiana to Air Italy. The carrier will operate under the new name from March 1, 2018 onwards.

The expansion follows Qatar Airways’ acquisition of a 49 per cent share in the Italian airline in 2016, which will also see the future Air Italy add some 50 aircraft to its fleet largely by leasing Boeing 737 Max 8, Airbus A330 and B787 aircraft from Qatar Airways.

Indeed, it is one of these leased A330-200s that will operate the new Milan Malpensa-Bangkok route (the airline will lease a total of five of the aircraft from Qatar Airways).

The service will operate four times per week with the following schedule:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
IG931 Milan (MXP) Bangkok (BKK) 1445 0650+1 Wed, Fri, Sun
1855 1100+1 Mon
IG932 Bangkok (BKK) Milan (MXP) 0850 1540 Mon, Thu, Sat
1300 1950 Tue

A spokesperson for the airline has informed Business Traveller that the entry promotional fares for the new route begin at €440 (US$540), though we were unable to confirm these fares as at the time of writing access to the airline’s website had been suspended “due to extraordinary technical intervention with the purpose of service improvement”.

The airline’s rapid expansion plans backed by Qatar Airways come at a time when rival Italian airline Alitalia has been beset by financial difficulties, entering bankruptcy proceedings early last year despite Gulf carrier Etihad’s 49 per cent stake in the airline.

Last month, Alitalia announced it will be axing its Rome-Beijing route in March this year, about 19 months since it resurrected the route in August 2016.