Alfred Sant slams Gozo tunnel and airport projects, says island is losing its charm

The Labour MEP and former prime minister says the airport project should have been discarded altogether

An artistic impression of the Gozo Rural Airfield, a plan which Alfred Sant says should be discarded
An artistic impression of the Gozo Rural Airfield, a plan which Alfred Sant says should be discarded

Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant raised concerns about overdevelopment in Gozo, slamming in particular projects for a Malta-Gozo tunnel and airport on the sister island.

In a Facebook post uploaded on Sunday morning, Sant said that there is truth to the concerns raised by many on Gozo and the rate of development it has seen in recent years.

“Too many people (most of them Gozitans) agree that 'development in Gozo has reached unsustainable levels. Of course, there is truth in what is being said.”

He went on to warn that Gozo is losing the qualities that made it attractive to visitors in the first place.

“The island is becoming a mini Malta and it will lose the genuine value it held that helped attract visitors,” Sant said. “The problem is that there are too many ambiguous intentions in the market.”

Sant called out a contradiction in the attitudes of tourism promotors in Gozo, who on the one side worry about overdeveloopment yet support government projects that would see more traffic and development on the island.

He mentioned the Malta-Gozo tunnel project and plans for a Gozo airport as such projects.

“I can’t understand how serious tourism promotors in Gozo will, on one hand, worry about the ongoing development aspect of things, and on the other hand come out in favour of the monstrous project that appears to have been shelved – the tunnel between Malta and Gozo,” he said.

“Or [they would] be in favour of that project that has since been revived, although it should have been discarded altogether – that of an airport for passenger airplanes.”

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 between Malta and Gozo, and the current heliport in Xewkija does not have a runway that is long enough to accommodate small aircraft. 

In 1996, when Alfred Sant became prime minister, one of the first decisions he took was to stop the Gozo airport plans started by the previous administration.

However, current Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri insisted that the Labour government will build such an airfield. He recently tabled a site plan in Parliament which showed that the airstrip would extend beyond the perimeter of the existing heliport.