Air Malta to be dissolved by end of 2023

It has been reported this week that Maltese national carrier Air Malta is to be dissolved by the end of 2023, with the government aiming for a “leaner” operator to be established with little disruption to the overall operations of the firm. 

The news was confirmed yesterday by Air Malta’s executive chairman David Curmi, who said that a five-year plan for a new state-owned carrier is “close to finalisation” during an interview with The Times of Malta. This strategy comes about as a result of EU state aid rules which prevent the Maltese government from providing the existing carrier with any more financial support until 2026 following such an injection in 2016. The government had applied to supply Air Malta with 290 million euro in 2020, but is so far yet to gain approval. 

Air Malta will reportedly provide severance pay to staff as per their existing agreements, with this expected to cost the carrier “tens of millions” – however, it has been claimed that the Maltese government’s new operator will step in with little to no disruption to the overall flight schedules, suggesting that some or all employees may be transferred to the new venture.

Image Copyright: Air Malta

The EU is said to “prefer” this strategy to the alternative financing methods proposed by the Maltese government, as was the case with Italy’s new national carrier ITA Airways in 2021. Little indication has been given as to the external appearance of this new carrier, though several names have reportedly been suggested.

It is worth noting that the Maltese government also holds “golden shares” in Malta Air, the Ryanair-backed airline which was founded in 2019 and which is Malta’s largest airline with a fleet of 158 aircraft.