Doha - While Etihad is leaving Italy, Qatar Airways is coming. The Gulf carrier buys 49 percent of Meridiana.

As of the second quarter of 2018, 20 Boeing 737 Max will be delivered to the airline. They are jets that come from the Qatar Airways order.

The talks started in 2015 between Qatar Airways and the owners of Meridiana. One year later it looked as if everything had already been settled. But the deal has been finalized in the last quarter of 2017. Qatar Airways has taken over 49 percent of the shares of AQA Holding, as announced on September 28, the parent company who controls the second-largest Italian airline operator

According to a statement, Qatar Airways hopes to strengthen its presence in Italy and Europe thanks to Meridiana. The Qatari airline already flies into the country with 42 flights per week. It flies to Rome, Pisa, Milan, and Venice. Meridiana operates 49 destinations in 29 countries.

The previous owner, Meridiana-Alisarda, retains 51 percent and the right to appoint a majority of the Board of Directors. The airline based in Sardinia still records red bottom-line. But a new business plan and a new boss would be announced in a timely manner to change this, Qatar Airways said.

Meridiana operates an old fleet of Boeing 737, 767 and MD-82. But this is apparently to change. As Qatar chief Akbar Al Baker says Boeing 737 Max is to come soon. As of the second quarter of 2018, 20 Boeing 737 Max will be delivered to the airline. They are jets that come from the Qatar Airways order.