Gozo minister insists airfield pledge will be fulfilled as consultation closes

An application with the Planning Authority will be submitted in the coming weeks

An artistic impression of the Gozo Rural Airfield (Photo: Ministry for Gozo)
An artistic impression of the Gozo Rural Airfield (Photo: Ministry for Gozo)

Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri announced that the regional impact assessment process, studies and public consultation on the proposed Gozo Rural Airfield project have been concluded.

Camilleri said that the Ministry for Gozo, through the Regional Development Authority for Gozo, proposed this project to explore the possibility of turning the dilapidated site of the Gozo Heliport into an airfield.

There is no air link between Malta an Gozo and helicopter and sea plane services available in the past were abandoned because they were not economically feasible.

There has never been a fixed-wing service and the current heliport in Xewkija does not have a runway that is long enough to accommodate small aircraft. Plans to build an airstrip in Gozo in the 1990s were abandoned by the 1996 Labour government, which opposed the project at the time.

"This proposal is an electoral promise that this government is determined to see through, especially now that all studies show that the benefits related to the project as proposed, outweigh its impacts", Camilleri said.

He explained that more than 70 proposals, suggestions and recommendations were submitted and included in the Regional Impact Assessment.

Camilleri recently tabled the site plan in Parliament which showed that the airstrip would extend beyond the perimeter of the existing heliport.

Mario Borg, CEO of the Gozo Regional Development Authority, explained the economic, environmental and social impacts of the project on Gozo, and looked at the recommendations on how the project could be improved. Some of the recommendations are:

  • that the rural aspect of the project remains central
  • careful use of trees and other vegetation in order to minimise the noise generated
  • that the fuel deposit is not restricted solely to emergency use
  • that the project envisages the installation of electric charging points for electric aircrafts
  • that the government continues to play an active part in the management of the operation of the airfield once completed

"The next step is that on the recommendations of this report, the Ministry for Gozo will in the coming weeks submit an application to the Planning Authority and if permits are issued, follow the tender process so that accessibility to Gozo is further strengthened", concluded Camilleri.