DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Qatar Airways says it has completed the acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Italy’s AQA Holding, the new parent company of Italy’s second largest carrier Meridiana.

Qatar Airways, one of the Middle East’s biggest carriers, said Sunday that previous sole shareholder Alisarda will keep a 51 percent share in the company. Meridiana was set up in the early 1960s by the Aga Khan, a business mogul and the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims.

Qatar Airways already has a strong presence in Italy, with more than 40 flights a week from its base in Doha. The airline has a fleet of 200 aircraft, while Meridiana says it has 16.

Italy’s largest carrier remains Alitalia, which is partly owned by Qatar Airways’ regional competitor Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi.