The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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KM Malta Airlines takes over as national airline and operates its first flights

Sunday, 31 March 2024, 16:08 Last update: about 18 days ago

KM Malta Airlines began flight operations on Easter Sunday, after the closure of Air Malta.

The new national airline's first flight departed from Malta International Airport to Catania, in Sicily, at 6am on Sunday,  it announced on its Facebook page.

The first flight was piloted by Captain Denise Casolani and First Officer Warren Zammit, it said.

The flight represented the launch of the new airline's summer schedule, connecting Malta to 17 destinations across Europe.

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Air Malta, which served as the national airline for 50 years, closed its doors after years of financial troubles on Saturday. In 2022, the government had announced that it was in talks with the European Commission to try and get approval to inject funds into the airline, in what was a last ditch effort to save it. But the talks evidently did not end with the government being able to inject the funds, and a different route was chosen, to close Air Malta and launch this new airline instead. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana had said that former politicians from both administrations over the years had "used and abused" Air Malta for their own benefit.

KM Malta Airlines, when announcing its summer schedule, had said it would be serving 17 airports across 15 key European cities, namely, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Catania, Dusseldorf, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, Prague, Rome, Vienna and Zurich. This is one destination less than Air Malta was flying when it closed (18).

In October 2023 Prime Minister Robert Abela, together with the Finance Minister, made the new airline announcement, saying that it would begin flight operations on 31 March. It was said that in all, €350 million will be injected into the new airline. €50 million of this would be working capital, while €300 million would be in the form of assets. They said it would have the same number of aircraft Air Malta did, eight. The finance minister had said that the seat load factor of the new airline will be better than that of Air Malta (which was around 75%), and is predicted to be around 90%.

According to a slide shown during the press conference, the new airline would be predicted to see its total revenue exceed total costs in 2025. In addition, after three years, as per the agreement with the European Commission, the government will have to either start seeking a strategic partner, or go down the route of part-privatisation, however Abela and Caruana said that government will retain majority shareholding.

The Air Malta website now only holds the following message. "Air Malta ceased flight operations on March 30th, 2024. We extend our heartfelt thanks to our dedicated employees for their unwavering commitment and hard work over our 50 year tenure. We also express our gratitude to all our loyal customers, travel partners, and collaborators for their support throughout the years. Since the first Boeing 720B touched down on Maltese soil on March 29th, 1974, ahead of our inaugural flight on 1st April 1974, until our final flight on March 30th, 2024, Air Malta has proudly represented Malta on the global stage. Moving forward, KM Malta Airlines will serve as the new national airline for the Maltese Islands."

 

 


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