Carry on: Ailing Alitalia, Doha stopovers, Qantas backs Queenstown and more

Other business travel news includes Russia's challenge to Airbus and Boeing, and Air Canada boosting flights to Australia.

Etihad pulls back from Alitalia
Etihad Airways won’t be throwing good money after bad at Italian airline Alitalia after it went into bankruptcy proceedings.  This follows employees voting against plans to cut jobs and salaries. Emirates owns 49% Alitalia and says it’s “not prepared to continue to invest” without the support of all stakeholders.

Etihad president and chief executive James Hogan says the business requires “fundamental and far-reaching restructuring,” citing the effects of greater low-cost carrier competition and the impacts of terrorist events on tourism demand.

Italy’s development minister, Carlo Calenda, says he wants to prioritise the sale of the whole company and, while there are no negotiations at present, those overseeing the administration process will be open to offers in the next two weeks.

Free stopovers in Doha
Qatar Airways has launched a stopover package at Doha that includes a free night’s stay at one of four hotels, Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana. A second night’s stay can be added for a $US50 booking fee. Qatar’s recently revised transit visa is free and allows passengers to stopover for up to 96 hours.

Qantas commits to Queenstown
Qantas will continue its daily direct flights between Sydney and Queenstown after October, saying there is strong demand for the Boeing 737 service. The announcement complements a recent increase in services during the July to August ski season peak of up to 10 services per week.

Canadians add Melbourne
Air Canada will begin flying direct to Melbourne from Vancouver from December 1 as part of a network expansion for its northern winter season. The service will run four times weekly until February 4, 2018, using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Air Canada already flies from Vancouver to Sydney and Brisbane. It also has a codeshare agreement with Virgin Australia.

Russian jetliner emerges
The first flying prototype of the Ikrut MC-21, a twin-engine short-mid-range jet airliner with a capacity of 150-211 passengers, has left the assembly room floor, Russian media reports say. It will now be over to the flight testing division to prepare for the first flight, a company official says. However, details on the plane's expected flight-testing schedule remain scarce and a date for the first flight has yet to be confirmed. The MC-21 has been hailed in Russia as a faster, more efficient, and less expensive than its Airbus and Boeing counterparts. It is also said to feature the latest aircraft construction, engine technology and avionics systems. 

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