Qatar Airways Expects to Finalize Meridiana Deal by January

  • Airline to buy 49% of Meridiana if conditions met, CEO said
  • Timeframe to complete deal postponed from October to January

Qatar Airways expects to finalize plans to buy a 49 percent stake in Meridiana Fly SpA by the end of January, which would end a long spat with unions over job cuts at the ailing Italian carrier.

Completion of the deal, which was agreed in July, depends on Meridiana meeting certain unspecified conditions, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an e-mailed statement Sunday.

“We are hoping to have our discussions concluded by the end of January," he said. "During this period, Meridiana Fly also has to deliver certain conditions and achieve certain targets in its performance. We want Meridiana Fly to be a very strong national carrier with a robust international network, creating jobs.”

Qatar Airways had previously said it expected to complete the acquisition of unprofitable Meridiana in early October. The Italian government spent months earlier this year trying to mediate between Meridiana and the company’s unions, which objected to job-cut plans. Italy’s second-biggest airline is owned by a holding company of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.

Qatar Airways, which is London-based IAG SA’s biggest shareholder, has been seeking stakes in foreign companies. It said in July it would pay $613 million for up to 10 percent of Latam Airlines Group SA, South America’s biggest carrier.

Meridiana is expected to get some of the 70 737 Max 8s that Qatar Airways ordered from Boeing Co. last month, Corriere della Sera reported, citing an interview with Al Baker. He said in October that the Max jetliners are intended for another carrier that the Gulf operator is buying.

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