The Malta Independent 24 September 2021, Friday

Malta Air: Freedom of Information request for contract rejected

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 10:00 Last update: about 3 years ago

A Freedom of Information request asking for the full copy of the contract between the Ryan Air group and the Maltese government regarding the setting up of Malta Air has been rejected.

This newsroom sent the request to Tourism Ministry last July. The request was rejected on the grounds that the documents contain commercially sensitive information.

The full reason for the rejection reads: “The Ministry for Tourism refers to Article 32(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, which relates to disclosure of trade secrets, commercially valuable information, and information concerning business/commercial/financial information and on the basis of which a request for information may be refused. In view of the fact that the document requested contains information of this nature, the Ministry for Tourism reiterates its position and confirms that it is unable to accede to your request.”

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This newsroom has contested this decision.

Last June, an agreement was signed by the Ministry for Tourism and Ryanair through which, the latter had formally acquired the shares in a specifically set-up subsidiary of Malta Air Travel Ltd (Malta Med Air), and in so doing establishing a formal presence in Malta through a dedicated Maltese airline company, through which the Ryanair group manages its Malta-based aircraft and other routes operated to and from Malta.

Malta Air was to initially have a fleet of six Boeing 737 aircraft based in Malta, but this will increase to ten aircraft within the next three years, an investment in the region of $1 billion. The airline was to initially employ 200 personnel, but this number is expected to increase to 350 personnel within three years. As part of the agreement, 50 Ryanair aircraft were to be registered in Malta’s jurisdiction and hence take the 9H registration code.

During the agreement signing, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had said that while the airline is owned by Ryanair, the Maltese government has a “golden share” which can be used to protect Malta’s interests. He said that the government will have a veto right on a change in the company’s name and on a transfer of the Aircraft Operating Certificate or Aircraft Operating License to the oversight of a civil aviation authority outside of Malta.

While the government has continually indicated its dedication to Air Malta’s survival, concerns from the Air Malta pilots’ association were raised about this, and pilots were worried that this deal could harm Air Malta.

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