Transport Malta in drive to expand aviation register by 85 aircraft by end 2019

315 planes are registered in Malta's aviation registry, twice the figure for 2012, with Transport Malta aiming to raise the figure to 400 by the end of this year

315 aircraft are currently registered in Malta
315 aircraft are currently registered in Malta

Transport Malta is engaged in an effort to expand Malta's aviation register, with a view towards increasing the number of registered aircraft by 85 by the end of 2019.

There are currently 315 planes registered in Malta - twice the 2012 figure - but Transport Malta has set its sights high, aiming to raise this to 400 within the next eight and a half months, Transport Minister Ian Borg announced at a press conference on Thursday.

Borg highlighted that the local civil aviation sector contributes to 2.5% of the country's GDP and employs 3,200 people.

He said that just as Malta had been successful in becoming a major ship register - currently the sixth biggest in the world - the island should further exploit its potential when it comes to the civil aviation industry too.

"We are the first in Europe and the sixth globally in terms of our maritime registry, and what we have done in this sector we can also do for aviation," he said, "We should give more visibility to the aviation sphere, and Transport Malta plays a crucial role in this."

Borg said that the target to reach 400 registered planes by the end of this year was ambitious, but that he was convinced it could be reached.

He went on to say that there are 35 certified airline operators based in Malta which were granted an Air Operators Certificate (AOC), with the aim being to push this up to 40 by the time 2019 comes to a close. There are also nine airline maintenance companies on the island, together with five organisations which train cabin crew and another five which train pilots.

"The industry brings with it a whole cluster of operations," he said, pointing out that jobs in the sector paid well and offered workers the chance of a successful career.

Borg further noted that a challenge facing the industry was the availability of suitably trained local personnel, which sometimes makes it necessary to look elsewhere for human resources.

Transport Malta's doors open for operators

The minister said that civil aviation operators who chose to base themselves often remarked that they had found Transport Malta's doors wide open for them, and that the authority's officials did their utmost to help them in the process.

"Transport Malta is the first port of call for such operators, but several other authorities also go out of their way to help make the process as seamless as possible for these companies," he added.

The press conference also saw an airline operator, SmartLynx Airlines, obtain its AOC, making it the 35th carrier to be granted a certificate.

SmartLynx vice president Sigurdur Hrafn Gislason remarked that Malta had "come out on top" when the company had done its research on which country to open an operational base in. "I feel confident we made the right choice," Gislason said.

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