Former Labour MP Charles Mangion will be new Air Malta chairman

All change at the Maltese national airline: out goes Maria Micallef, and in comes former Labour MP Charles Mangion as chairman of Air Malta

In comes Charles Mangion (left) - out goes Maria Micallef
In comes Charles Mangion (left) - out goes Maria Micallef

Former Labour MP Charles Mangion is to be appointed chairman of the Maltese national airline Air Malta, this newspaper is informed.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has made his mark on a new plan to turn around Air Malta’s fortunes already, by asking chairperson Maria Micallef to resign.

Mangion, who was formerly Enemalta chairman under Mizzi’s helm in the previous legislature, will be assisted by new deputy chairman Ray Sladden. Sladden was formerly a group financial controller at Air Malta when the airline was led by first chairman Albert Mizzi.

Business magnate Joe Gasan is to retain his post as board director of the airline.

The other directors are Katrina Borg Cardona, Jonathan Scerri, Tania Brown, Alex Sciberras and Rita Sammut. Andre Borg is board secretary.

George Abela, president emeritus, will continue to lead negotiations with unions and work closely with the new board, minister Konard Mizzi said. He will be supported by permanent secretaries Ronald Mizzi, Alfred Camilleri and their technical team.

Industry sources told MaltaToday that Micallef’s resignation was “in line” with the new vision for the airline.

The former General Soft Drinks managing director was appointed to the post three years ago by the incoming Labour government. She released no comment when contacted yesterday.

Airline sources said that Micallef was “asked to leave” in light of the change in strategy. Micallef was appointed chairperson of the airline in 2014, having spent 15 years occupying various senior positions within the Mizzi Organisation. Throughout this period, she served as General Manager of General Soft Drinks Co. Ltd.

She was also the first woman appointed as member on the European Technical Council of The Coca Cola Company to travel widely across several countries, advising cross functional teams.

Charles Mangion is a former deputy leader of the Labour Party and before that was a parliamentary secretary in the Sant administration of 1996-1998.

Konrad Mizzi, appointed minister for tourism following the June general election, has on several occasions hinted at significant changes in the restructuring of the airline – especially one that would see Air Malta start making money.

MaltaToday has already reported that Mizzi could hive off Air Malta’s landing rights into a new company – a sign of how Mizzi plans to do things differently from his predecessor, Edward Zammit Lewis.

Landing rights in airports that are already at over-capacity, such as London Heathrow, are crucial gains for airlines seeking slots for profitable routes.

Air Malta’s take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, the world’s second-busiest international airport and the main access point for the British economy, come with price-tags as high as €70 million for a pair. The price itself reflects capacity constraints at Heathrow.

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