Partit Demokratiku: Malta can be airline hub to Americas, Africa, Near East

Partit Demokratiku: 'Malta strategically placed to become an airline hub to the Americas, the Near East and Africa'

Malta is strategically placed to become an airline hub, the PD has claimed
Malta is strategically placed to become an airline hub, the PD has claimed

The Partit Demokratiku has urged Air Malta to seek strategic partnerships that would see Malta become an airline hub to South America, North America, the Near East and Africa.

PD deputy leader Anthony Buttigieg said in a statement that Malta is strategically placed to develop into such a global flight hub and urged the ailing national airline to start “thinking outside its box” in its ongoing quest for a strategic partner.

He also criticised the airline for axing its routes to Manchester and Frankfurt, down-sizing its fleet and losing its ground-handling contracts with other airlines, warning that such developments “paint a very bleak picture”.

“In a time where we have seen an explosion in incoming tourists and business travellers due to the unfavourable situation in our neighbouring and rival countries for this business, it would have been expected that our national airline would be thinking big not small,” he said. “In the global business environment, and in the aviation industry, those who have thrived were those who expanded.”

He questioned why Air Malta is still operating at a loss, when it was close to breaking even at the end of the previous PN administration’s tenure. During the summer months, it was revealed that Air Malta was €66 million in the red. At the end of the 2015 financial year, Air Malta lost €4.2 million, after losing €16.9 million the previous year. In 2012, the first year of the restructuring plan, the airline suffered €38.5 million in losses. 

The government was previously in talks with Alitalia over the partial privatisation of Air Malta, but pulled the plug in January after ruling that the deal on offer was not beneficial for the airline’s future.

Tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis said later that the government has opened talks with a number of potential strategic partners, and has not ruled out the possibility of local investment in the airline. 

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