Air Malta to be replaced by KM Malta Airlines
LA VALLETTA (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltàs national carrier Air Malta will be replaced by KM Malta Airlines and its first flight is scheduled on March, 31 next year. This was announced by the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela following an agreement with the European Union on the transition to the new airline.
The European Commission has refused to accept a government request for fresh state funding for the carrier amounting to almost 300 million.
The Maltese government will be investing 350 million in the new airline, of which 300m are earmarked to buy three of its aircraft, which are currently leased; for the purchase of London and Gatwick airport slots from the government, and to buy hangars and surrounding property from Air Malta. The remaining 50 million will be working capital.
The new airline would still fly under the Air Malta brand and would continue to carry the Maltese Cross. Air Maltàs current fleet of eight Airbus A 320 aircraft will be kept, even though the European Union initially wanted a reduction. It will fly to 17 destinations and discontinuing routes which were unprofitable. Air Malta operated to 37 destinations as recently as 2019.
The new airline will fly to Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Catania, Dusseldorf, London Heathrow and London Gatwick, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Prague, Rome, Vienna and Zurich. Plans are in hand for a new service to Copenhagen but other services – Palermo, Naples, Nice, Geneva, Lisbon, and Tel Aviv will be discontinued.
Abela said the new airline will start making profit in about two years’ time. “We cannot be dependent on foreign airlines, we need to retain control of our national airline which can meet Maltàs needs while making financial sense,” Abela said.
Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, confirmed that the new airline will re-employ Air Maltàs workforce of around 400 employees. Caruana added, the airlinès wage bill decreased from 48m to 22m and current early retirement schemes will end after four years.
The Maltese government would continue to own the majority holding of the new airline, but intends to either issue shares in the new company or seek a strategic partner to ensure good governance.