Flights of fancy / Italy
Mistral Air is not your typical airline. Founded by a former film star, it charters passenger flights by day and runs mail services by night – and is a big hit with pilgrims.
Owned by the Italian post office, this charter airline is popular with pilgrims visiting Europe’s holiest sites. Founded by the actor and former Olympic swimmer Bud Spencer, who starred in a number of Italian westerns and action-comedy films in the 1960s and 1970s, Mistral Air took to the skies for the first time in 1984 as a cargo and parcel airline. After becoming part of the TNT group the company was later sold to Poste Italiane, the sole shareholder for the past nine years.
With the takeover the fleet was converted to the current one made up of two Boeing 737s and two ATRs. The staff grew to 200, with bases in Rome, Sicily, Naples, Bari and Milan. The core model of the business is now to provide overnight mail services for all of Italy and to charter passenger flights during the daytime and weekends.
As well as serving destinations in the Red Sea, Balearics and Canary Islands, one of Mistral’s largest clients is the tour operator Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (part of the Italian church), making Mistral a popular choice for flights at the busiest times of year for holy events and pilgrimages in Lourdes, Santiago de Compostela and Medjugorje.
One Boeing 737-300, one Boeing 737-400, one ATR 42 and one ATR 72. Two more expected in the summer.
Carried 600,000 passengers in 2013
There are plans to roll out an iPad rental service to passengers later this year