Tourism Minister insists Air Malta’s Enemed debt consists of standard 90-day fuel credit term

Konrad Mizzi refuses to confirm how much fuel debt the national carrier has, but says it is less than the €20 million PN MPs claim

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the debt Air Malta had with Enemed didn’t amount to €20 million, but he fell short of giving a figure
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said the debt Air Malta had with Enemed didn’t amount to €20 million, but he fell short of giving a figure

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has continued to dodge questions in Parliament on how much debt Air Malta has with Enemed, insisting that the money owed consisted of the airline’s normal credit term with the fuel supplier.

Asked by PN MPs Robert Cutajar and Ryan Callus on Monday whether the national carrier was €20 million in debt with Enemed, despite claiming to have registered a €1.2 million profit in 2018, Mizzi refused to specify how much Air Malta owed, but said it was less than the amount mentioned.

The questions come after Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami last week claimed in Parliament that Air Malta has pending bills amounting to some €20 million with state-owned fuel importer Enemed.

READ ALSO: Nationalist MP claims Air Malta owes Enemed €20 million

Questioned if it was true that the debt with Enemed was 15 times greater than the profit made last year, Mizzi remained non-specific, instead saying that a distinction had to be made between profit and cash flow.

He said the €1.2 million in profit was operational in nature, and came from the sale of flight tickets. “We made an operational profit through ticket sales. The profit wasn’t made because we removed internal ground handling operations or sold the Heathrow and Gatwick slots,” he said.

“We need to differentiate between profit and cash flow. The debt Air Malta has with Enemed amounts to that of 90 days. When it buys fuel, it pays for it 90 days later - this is the arrangement Enemed has with all the airlines that land in Malta. It’s a way for Air Malta to manage its cash flow,” Mizzi emphasised.

“Air Malta is keeping to its Enemed credit terms, and we are in order in terms of payments,” he said, adding that the amount owned “isn’t as high” as the €20 million claimed.

Last month, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi announced that Air Malta had registered a €1.2 million profit for the year ending March 2018 – the airline’s first profit in 18 years. Despite the announcement, the company’s financial statements have not yet been published.

Responding to similar questions by Fenech Adami in Parliament a few weeks ago, Mizzi said he could not comment on the debt due to the fact that the information being requested was commercially sensitive. And during last week’s sitting, the minister also cited commercial sensitivity behind his reluctancy to give a concrete figure.

Ghana could be new route for Air Malta

Mizzi said Air Malta was considering using a longer-range version of the Airbus A321, the A321XLR, to start flying to Accra in Ghana. He also reconfirmed that Mumbai was also on the airline’s horizon.

“We want to serve Sub-Saharan Africa, so we are considering a service to Accra, Ghana, and are also considering Mumbai.”

We went on to say that, once Tripoli airport is safe, the Maltese carrier would be one of the first airlines to restart operations to Libya.

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