Tonio Fenech formally appoints new Air Malta board

Air Malta Chairman, board officially named by finance minister Tonio Fenech, but Alec Mizzi reportedly turned down post after MT story.

As former MTA chairman and Farsons managing director Louis Farrugia was appointed Air Malta chairman, replacing Sonny Portelli who steered the national airline through its toughest year, government has announced the names of the new board.

The board members are Alison Attard, Andrew Calascione, Alan Caruana, Roderick Chalmers, Adrian Coppini, Helga Ellul and Mark Micallef Eynaud. All are new except Alison Attard and Adrian Coppini.

Andrew Calascione has reportedly replaced Alec Mizzi – son of former Air Malta chairman Albert Mizzi – who turned down the post after a story published on MaltaToday last Sunday.

Alan Caruana, the man who negotiated the advent in Malta of low cost carriers Ryanair and Easyjet, has been appointed to the board by Tonio Fenech and is being reported to be set to occupy the post of Executive Director at Air Malta.

Alan Caruana - until now the head of secretariat of embattled finance minister Tonio Fenech – has reportedly been informed of his new appointment last week.

His ‘promotion’ to the top job at Air Malta has raised eyebrows at the airline, given that Caruana was the main negotiator that brought low cost carriers Ryanair and Easyjet to Malta.

Both Ryanair and Easyjet were identified by government appointed London auditors Ernst & Young  as the main cause of Air Malta’s downfall.

But more eyebrows were raised when more names of new directors were named at Air Malta.

Roderick Chalmers is reportedly on his way out of Bank of Valletta, and is still under immense flak by both the MFSA and shareholders over his handling of a property fund collapse that cost the bank some €50 million.

Air Malta has appointed Ray Hart as Chief Restructuring Officer of the airline. He will be working under the direction of Chief Executive Officer,  Peter Davies, and will be responsible for the reorganisation process and spearheading change management within Air Malta.

The restructuring process of the national airline will start in parallel with discussions undertaken with the European Commission.

Australian born Ray Hart, who has worked with Peter Davies before, has vast experience in business restructuring and implementation. A chartered accountant by profession he has previously been involved in several airline projects.

Fenech has said that the ball is now in the European Commission’s court with respect to Air Malta’s restructuring plan. The plan will now be subjected to scrutiny by a team of experts in Brussels who may ask for clarifications or even disagree with the contents and ask for changes.

Should the Commission continue to register disagreement, then Air Malta may be forced to dissolve all of its assets and immediately pay back the loan and ground all operations. “Air Malta is not a lone case. Throughout these years we have seen many airlines go through a similar process, and we shouldn’t be over-dramatic,” Fenech said.

The finance minister would not go into the content of the restructuring plan, which so far has been a main bone of contention between the airline and ALPA, the Airline Pilots Association. With a 1,500 workforce and 12 leased aircraft, the plan reportedly suggests the slashing of 600 jobs, prompting concerns from the General Workers Union.

I am very disappointed and very surprised that Mr Sonny Portelli a capable and gentleman for one reason or the other has stepped down form the Chairmanship of Air Malta. I had full faith in him and he surely was not a rubber stamp and would have done his best for Air Malta. Could it be that the reason for stepping down was that he was not left to make hus duty?
The whole concept is not the change , but how much more with it cost Air Malta.
If Dr Alec Mizzi is the son of his father he will never accept to be used as a rubber stamp. Some people are a rubber stamp as long as they have status worth nothing. Can you imagine the board under the chairmanship of Mr L. Farrugia will stand up of Holy Tonio or the CEO? wait and see.
“Air Malta is not a lone case. Throughout these years we have seen many airlines go through a similar process, and we shouldn’t be over-dramatic,” Fenech said.Toni il qaddies rasu mistriha, mhux wihed mil haddiema.