Finance Minister in Brussels next week for talks on Air Malta State aid application

Technical talks between government and the European Commission on Malta’s request to be able to subsidise Air Malta are ongoing

Air Malta needs State aid to survive after taking a battering because of the COVID-19 pandemic
Air Malta needs State aid to survive after taking a battering because of the COVID-19 pandemic

Clyde Caruana will fly to Brussels next week to discuss government’s proposal for State aid to Air Malta with the European Commission.

The Finance Minister said today that technical talks are currently underway between officials from the commission and government.

“Three technical meetings have taken place after my first visit to Brussels and the exchange of information between both sides is ongoing,” he said.

Malta is requesting permission from Brussels to be able to pump millions of euros into the ailing airline that took a massive hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Media reports last month suggested that Malta wants to provide the airline with €290 million in subsidies.

Any State aid would have to be accompanied by a reform programme that could see Air Malta cut jobs and reduce routes as happened when a similar aid package was agreed with the Commission in 2012.

However, Caruana would not confirm whether Air Malta will be making hefty redundancies as a result of the ongoing State aid talks.

Last month, MaltaToday reported that Air Malta sold its brandname for €21 million to a government company that manages intellectual property. The transaction took place in February 2020.

In 2019, Air Malta hived off its landing slots London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports to Malta Air Travel Limited (MATL), a government company which leases the slots back to the national airline, paying it €33 million in cash for its summer slots alone in 2018. The next year, Air Malta was expected to be paid €22.8 million for the winter slots.