A former executive at failed Air Berlin has been recruited as chief operations officer of Air Italy.

Neil Mills was chief planning and strategy officer of the German carrier, where he worked with the board and shareholders from 2016 to restructure the company.

He is taking on the newly-created role at the Italian carrier 49% owned by Qatar Airways with immediate effect.

Mills will have responsibility for co-ordinating and directing all the functions of the airline, previously know as Meridiana, under guidance of the board of directors.

A qualified accountant, his aviation career started in 1997 with easyJet, where he stayed for 12 years and became procurement director. Mills moved to Dubai in 2009 to be part of the startup management team for flydubai as chief financial officer.

He then became CEO of Delhi-based SpiceJet Limited and led the turnaround team as chief executive advisor of Philippine Airlines.

Air Italy deputy executive chairman Marco Rigotti said: “The new Air Italy project is quickly progressing and thanks to Neil we will optimise the commercial, operational and financial performance of the airline, always bearing in mind the long term strategic goals we want to achieve.”

The airline plans to add new domestic routes from Milan to Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme next month and connections to new long-haul destinations including New York, Miami, Bangkok and Mumbai.

The Air Italy fleet of eight Boeing 737 NGs and three Boeing 767-300s will be progressively renewed with eight new aircraft.

Three new Boeing 737 MAX 8s and five Airbus A330-200s are set to join this year with the full retirement of the 767s by the end of 2018.